Is Running Bad for My Knees?

Anything that repeatedly stresses your knee joints is bound to be a potential source of pain, and running certainly fits the bill. In fact, knee pain is so common among those who pound the pavement that it has its own name — runner’s knee. 

Rather than a specific condition, runner’s knee is an umbrella term that encompasses various knee problems, including:

If you’re experiencing any of these conditions, our team at Choice Pain & Rehabilitation Center specializes in pain management and can help you get back on the track or trail. Our sports medicine experts will get to the root cause of your knee pain and design a customized treatment plan that not only stops your pain but strengthens your musculoskeletal system, so you can avoid pain and injury in the future.

Runners, in particular, need to take extra care of their knees as their high-impact sport puts constant pressure and pounding on the joints.

What does runner’s knee feel like?

Runner’s knee symptoms can range from a dull ache around the knee cap to a sharp pain when trying to perform certain activities, such as walking up stairs, squatting, kneeling, sitting down, or standing up. In some cases, you might even notice some swelling.

Popping and grinding sounds could indicate that you have bones rubbing on bones if the cartilage is damaged or missing.

What’s causing my knee pain?

Joints have a lot of moving parts, and your knees carry your total body weight while performing some pretty amazing tasks, so the chances of something going wrong is fairly high. The most common problems are with worn-down or damaged cartilage, sprained ligaments, inflammation of the soft tissue lining, and, of course, fractures.

Overuse and improper running technique are two of the main culprits in knee injuries. And if the muscles that support your knees, namely your hamstrings and quadriceps, are weak, your knees will be susceptible to injury. Similarly, tight muscles can put your knee joints at risk, so adequate stretching is important.

So, is running bad for my knees?

Running is a fantastic way to stay in shape, and it’s a very popular sport. If you love running, you don’t have to stop, but you do have to take some precautions to protect your knees. 

Keep your weight down 

Of course, running helps with this, but if you’re overweight when you begin your running routine, you need to take it slow to protect your knees.

Stretch first

As we mentioned, tight muscles surround your knee joints. To protect these muscles, take some time to gently stretch and warm up your legs. Our team can show you some good stretching techniques.

Don’t go too fast

Advising you to not go too fast isn’t about speed. We’re talking about how quickly you ramp up your activity. Set incremental goals for yourself rather than trying to break records with an all-out sprint before your body is ready. Gradual progression can help protect your knees.

Do it right

Yes, there’s a right and wrong way to run. No matter what steps you take to save your knees, if you run incorrectly, you can wreck them. For instance, leaning too far forward or backward can change the mechanics of your knees and cause damage. Our sports medicine team can help you find your best stride.

Wear the right shoes

Runners have a whole wall of specialty shoes in the sporting goods stores. Make sure you choose a pair that has excellent shock-absorbing qualities, is stable, and fits you well. 

Also, pay attention to the wear and tear on the soles of your shoes as you run, as it can give you  — and us — valuable information about how your feet hit the ground.

Watch where you run

Generally speaking, the harder the surface, the harder the impact on your knees. A dirt trail is better than concrete if you have the choice. 

Also, running downhill can be especially taxing on your knees. Try running down in a zigzag pattern to save them.

How to handle knee pain

Despite your best efforts, you may still end up with knee pain. If you do, the first course of action is to reduce swelling and discomfort, and that can typically be accomplished with the RICE method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Furthermore, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, can also help ease the pain.

If your pain persists, come see us. Our pain and rehab team can show you some healing exercises that will strengthen your joints. For severe pain, we offer joint and steroid injections.

If your knees are hurting, we can help relieve your pain. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center today.

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