HEALTH knee pain after running

Published on April 6th, 2015 | by Mark

Avoiding Inside Knee Pain After Running


Running. The word itself has the power to make some wince at the thought of knee pain after running and others smile from a fulfilling experience. As children, we spend most of our childhoods running, playing tag, and having races. It is something we enjoyed. As adults, running requires dedication and commitment but the results provided through this endeavor are numerous.

The Benefits of Running

  • Maintains a healthy body weight
  • Burns calories and sheds fat
  • Enhances energy
  • Provides a challenge
  • Improves the mood by releasing endocannabinoids, hormones that produce happy emotions and feelings

As we grow, running takes on a different tone is no longer as carefree. We must learn to conquer laziness and take precautions against injury. The biggest roadblock many adults face is pain.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

The most common form of pain experienced while running is felt behind the knee and around the kneecap. This pain tends to increase with activities such as walking up and down stairs.

Medically, this pain is caused by Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), also known as Runner’s Knee. This condition has various degrees of severity. It is a common problem and can be avoided with proper methods, stretches, and diet.

Causes of Runners Knee

Intense and frequent running is a challenging activity. Runner’s Knee, also known as anterior knee pain, is a common occurrence among runners, bikers, and those who do a lot of knees bending. It is so common that it accounts for 20% of all running injuries.

Common causes are:

  • Misalignment of the thighs and knees
  • Disproportion between hamstring and quadricep muscles
  • Overuse and over training
  • Too much pressure on one leg
  • Fallen Arches
  • Kneecap Misalignment

Your injury may be caused because your thighs and feet are not properly aligned while running. When properly aligned, your physiology properly supports your knees. As soon as the aren’t your knees bear the brunt of the impact. This may be why Runner’s Knee is often seen in those with weak hip abductors and hip external rotators.

Those with weak hip stabilizers often compensate by unconsciously rotating their thigh internally as the foot meets the ground. This causes the pelvis to tilt laterally toward the ground and creates a domino affect that pinches the knee, forcing it to accept the blunt of the impact forces.

Lack of Support

When they lose their proper support, your knee has the possibility of coming out of its track resulting in pain that can range from moderate or severe. Heel striking and over striding may also be linked to this common running injury.


Overuse of the knee can exasperate this problem as the nerves of the kneecap become irritated with the continuous bending and strain of running. Overstretched and overused tendons also contribute to this problem as does placing more pressure on one leg instead of evenly distributing your body’s load.

This can occur when running on curved tracks, or inclined/uneven surfaces. These types of conditions can put more pressure on one knee, leading to Runner’s knee after a prolonged period of time.

Overtraining by abruptly adding more miles and intensity also place a greater toll on the knees as the body has not had the time to gradually adjust to the new work load.

Those with flat feet, or fallen arches tend to stretch the muscles and the tendons. If the tendon’s are overstretched and overused the runner may experience pain behind the knee.


What does this condition feel like and when should you become concerned?

If this type of injury occurs you will most likely feel:

  • Pain/Sensitivity behind the knee
  • Swollen knee
  • Pain bending the knee
  • Sometimes feeling a popping sensation

Most doctors recommend listening to your body while running and to stop and cut back on miles when you experience these symptoms. Pushing through the pain will only make it worse and will not address the underlying problem.

Nutrition and Prevention

If you feel any of these symptoms, it is wise to get a diagnosis from your doctor. If your condition is indeed Runner’s Knee be prepared for a lengthy recovery. It will take several weeks before your knee will be strong enough to fully resume activities.

Rather than wait for the injury to occur, why not practice prevention and good nutrition to avoid the problem in the first place?

Proper warm-up and stretches can prepare your muscles for your running workout and help make them strong and flexible. This also minimizes the chance of causing irritation to your knee.

After your run, do not neglect your cool down stretches. Cool down exercises allow you to gradually reduce your heart rate. Cool down also reduces muscle soreness by releasing lactic acid and toxins.

Add variety to your runs. Different running surfaces makes it more interesting for you and changes how pressure is distributed to your knees. Consider the following options:

  • Concrete/Asphalt
  • Grass/Soft surface
  • Inclines
  • Curved Track
  • Straight run

Remember to take it slow. Do not over-train or boost your mileage dramatically. It is wise to challenge yourself appropriately while allowing your body to slowly adjust.

Proper Training Methods to Avoid Knee Pain After Running

Proper training methods can help you avoid this painful injury. Proper methods include:

  • Training to contract muscles on the outside of your hips to help keep your pelvis level.
  • Strengthening exercises to strengthen your hip abductors
  • Ensuring your foot falls flat under your hips to avoid heel striking
  • Reduce impact shock with proper running shoes
  • Strengthen Core
  • Ensure proper running form
  • Gait Training

These proper training methods do help minimize and avoid Runner’s Knee. In fact, a study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine had 19 individuals participate in an eight-week hip and core-strengthening program. By the end of 8 weeks, the individuals stated significant improvements in their knee’s function.

The University of Kentucky, took runners through eight types of gait retraining sessions. Afterwords, the participants noted a significant decrease in pain, as well as an improvement in their running mechanics.

Applying these training methods before you even start to experience pain in knee fat and knee cap, will save you weeks of recovery time and discomfort.

Setting the Pace

The proper running pace depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • Your fitness level
  • Your fitness goals

If you have just started running you may want to start slowly and focus on maintaining proper form. If on, on the other hand, you are interested in burning fat or competing than interval training may be for you.

The pace that you set must match your fitness level in terms of duration and intensity. Injury occurs when the duration and intensity are added abruptly without giving the body a chance to adjust to the load.

For beginners, interval training is a mix of speed walking and short bursts of jogging for a shorter duration of 20 minutes or less then gradually working up. For a professional the pace may be much more intense and the intervals lasting much longer.

Pacing Speeds

Those who are looking to challenge themselves include a variety of paces into their sessions. These running paces listed from slowest to fastest include:

  • Natural jogging Pace
  • Tempo
  • Threshold Pace
  • VO2 Max Pace
  • Speed
  • Full Sprint

In addition to proper warm up, cool down, training method, and pace, nutrition can add a fifth layer against knee pain.

Proper Nutrition Means

  • Eating enough to prevent catabolism, as this compromises tissue repair speed
  • Consume about 30% of your daily calories from unsaturated fat
  • Consume at least 3,000mg of omega-3 essential fats.
  • Consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium

Proper Running Shoes

Purpose of Running Shoes

Proper running shoes help cushion and absorb the shock of running. As the shock is properly absorbed, there is less strain on the knee. Not only do running shoes minimize the shock they can also decrease the occurrence of blisters and sprains. Ill fitting shoes are another leading cause of injury.

Good running shoes are worth investing in. While it may be painful to hand over such a large sum for shoes, it is much less painful than the injury you can sustain and the doctor’s bill you would have to pay. Furthermore, running shoes last for an average of 300 to 500 miles.

Visiting a specialty running shop can be very beneficial to ensure a proper fit. So what are the best type for knee pain?

Go for shoes that have the most shock absorption. Use your comfort level as a guide while running. Shoes with soft cushioning may reduce impact variables such the abruptness of the impact and the tibial acceleration rate (how fast the lower leg approaches the ground).

Best Running Shoes for bad knees

The best running shoe will ultimately depend on your specific style of running. If you tend to be a heel striker, you need running shoes with a foamy heel insert that helps center the foot. An example would the the Saucony Kinvara 4 which sells around $100.

If you suffer from over-pronation, caused by an arch collapsing inwards, then the Brooks PureCadence 2 may be the shoe for you.

The most recommended running shoe for this condition is the Asics Gel-Nimbus 15. These running shoes provide extra support underfoot, is filled with gel unites, and a Guidance Truistic System


While there are many possible causes for running, there are just as many prevention techniques. By learning the proper training methods, setting the proper pace, and avoiding over training you can greatly decrease your risk of injury.

Proper running shoes will help absorb the impact and spare your knees the knee pain after running and proper nutrition will fuel your body from the inside, allowing your muscles to strengthen and repair properly.

1. “How To Beat Runner’s Knee” – 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 3 Apr. 2015.
2. “How to Treat and Prevent Running Injuries: Runner’s Knee.” Web. 1 Apr. 2015.
3. “5 Injuries, 5 Shoes: Helpful Hints to Prevent Your Most Frequent Running Ailments.” Complex. Web. 3 Apr. 2015.

image credit: An Ache by ۞DLB۞, on Flickr

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is actually a super running fan.

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