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Knee pain when running - Common causes and what you can do about it.

Girl holding her injured knee.
Knee pain when running.

Knee pain is a common issue among runners and can vary in severity. It could be caused by a variety of factors such as overuse, injury, or biomechanical issues.

It can result in discomfort or a sharp pain in the knee, which affects the runner's performance, speed, and endurance.

Knee pain can also impact the bone and soft tissues in the knee over time, leading to chronic pain and discomfort. This leads to the inability of the runner to perform to the best of their abilities and could result in plateauing, decreased motivation, and even giving up on running altogether.

Adequate rest, stretching, and proper footwear can help alleviate the pain. In serious cases, medical intervention such as physical therapy or surgery may be necessary for relief.

Knee pain is a significant issue for runners and should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid long-lasting injuries and prolonged recovery periods. Below are some examples of different types of knee pain when running - common causes and what you can do about it.

Top 5 Common Injuries Runners Run into

Running is a popular and effective way to stay fit, but it's not without its risks.

Whether you're a seasoned runner or just starting out, knowing the most common injuries that runners face can help you prevent them from happening or deal with them when they do.

The top 5 common injuries that runners run into are shin splints, runner's knee, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, and stress fractures.

  1. Shin splints occur when the muscles around the shin bone become inflamed and painful.

  2. Runner's knee is a common term for pain around the patella or kneecap and can be caused by overuse or improper form.

  3. Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation in the ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot, causing pain and stiffness.

  4. IT band syndrome is when the band of tissue that runs from the hip to the knee becomes inflamed and tight, leading to pain on the outer knee.

  5. Stress fractures occur when there's a small crack or severe bruising in the bone due to repetitive stress.

Knowing about these injuries can help runners proactively prevent them, rather than putting a halt to their training plans.

Importance of addressing knee pain when running

Knee pain is a common issue that affects many runners, and it is important to address it as soon as possible. Ignoring the pain and continuing to run can lead to further damage, which could eventually end a runner's training altogether.

It is essential to identify the cause of the pain and take appropriate measures to prevent its recurrence.

Common causes of knee pain when running include overuse, poor running technique, or improper footwear.

Addressing these issues may require changes in training, such as incorporating rest days or cross-training.

Consultation with a healthcare professional with expertise in sports medicine or our physiotherapists may also be beneficial.

Additionally, appropriate footwear and running technique should be prioritised to avoid unnecessary strain on the knees.

By addressing knee pain when running, runners can avoid more severe injuries, continue training effectively, and prevent long-term damage to their knees.

Understanding Knee Pain

Symptoms to look out for include swelling, tenderness, stiffness, and difficulty bending the knee.

Pain may also increase with activities such as climbing stairs or running downhill.

In order to prevent knee pain, runners should focus on proper form, strength training to improve muscle imbalances, and cross-training to avoid overuse.

They should also choose shoes that are supportive and fit well.

Proper rest and ice can help manage mild knee pain while severe or persistent pain should be evaluated by a healthcare professional or our physiotherapists.

Knee Pain Prevention and Recovery


  • Strengthening Exercises: Building strength in the muscles around the knee can help prevent knee pain. Focus on exercises that target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

  • Warm-up and Cool-down: Before you start running, it's important to warm up by doing some light exercises to get your muscles warmed up. After running, cool down and stretch to prevent stiffness and soreness.

  • Good Running Shoes: Wearing proper running shoes that provide good support can reduce the impact on your knees and help prevent knee pain.

  • Cross-training: Incorporating other types of low-impact exercises, such as swimming or cycling, can help reduce stress on your knees and prevent overuse injuries.


  • Rest: Rest is crucial for recovery. Avoid running or any other activities that might cause further knee pain until the pain has subsided.

  • Ice therapy: Applying ice to the affected knee can reduce swelling and relieve pain. Apply ice for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.

  • Compression: Wearing a compression bandage or sleeve can help reduce swelling and provide support to the knee.

  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can help you identify the cause of your knee pain and design a rehabilitation program to help you recover.

Gradually Resuming Running:

  • Start slowly: Gradually increase your running volume and intensity to avoid putting too much stress on your knees.

  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to any signs of pain or discomfort and adjust your workout accordingly.

  • Cross-training: Incorporate other types of exercise into your routine to avoid overuse and reduce the impact on your knees.

  • Strengthening exercises: Continue to do strengthening exercises to build strength in the muscles around your knee and reduce the risk of injury.

Managing your knee pain

In conclusion, managing knee pain when running requires a combination of proactive measures and strategic approaches.

Some key takeaways include:

  • Strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint can help provide stability and support.

  • Wearing proper footwear, such as shoes with good shock absorption, can help reduce impact on the knee.

  • Gradually increasing mileage and intensity can help prevent overuse injuries.

  • Cross-training with low-impact activities, such as swimming or cycling, can help reduce stress on the knee.

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight can also reduce stress on the knees.

By implementing these practices, runners can not only manage knee pain but also improve their long-term running performance and overall wellness.

Consistent attention to knee health can help runners stay active and pain-free for years to come.

If you still feel a persistent pain while running, it is best to get it checked by our physiotherapists - our team is always ready to help!

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