When running my knee hurts – am I alone?
Knee pain when running is a common issue for runners. That is why a whole host of running knee injuries have coined the widely used phrase of ‘runners knee.’ The good news is strengthening muscles for running can help reduce knee pain now and prevent it in the future, but it is important to work out the cause of your knee pain to prevent long term injury and damage – which cannot be reversed.
But what is runners knee?
Runners knee is not necessarily a single a condition but is what we often call the variety of issues that cause pain in the knee of a runner. Often the pain is felt in or around the knee cap. Sometimes though we feel the pain in our knee it may not be the knee that’s the problem!
It can be the hips, calves, or core weaknesses that result in you feeling knee pain. This is why strength and conditioning exercises are so important in your running journey.
However there is a condition called patellofemoral pain syndrome, which could be experienced as runners knee – which is where the cartilage in the kneecap has softened. This occurs when the kneecap is not tracking as it should. Once eroded this cartilage will not heal itself – it is eroded forever. How bad this damage is will depend on how long the wearing has been happening – which is why it is imperative you listen to your body when it experiences pain and take action!
who experiences pain in the knee when running?
Knee pain is usually experienced by beginner runners or people upping the distance or frequency of runs. People who are training for events and don’t build up gradually can find knee pain creeping in.
Also women runners can be more susceptible to knee problems due to the angle of the thigh bone in relation to the wider female pelvis.
does running damage your knees?
Isn’t this the million dollar question! It’s what a lot of non runners say to runners, BUT if you are a recreational runner of a healthy weight, who trains sensibly and allows recovery, follows strength training and doesn’t have genetic disposition to osteoarthritis – you don’t need to worry about their knees!
I’m overweight – will running harm my knees?
Running does create a greater impact on the knee than walking. Our knees are designed to carry us and take the impact of our movement – but there does come a point where excess weight will put too much strain on a joint and cause damage. However, doing exercise is excellent for your health and also weight management – if that is what you are looking for.
Our advice is go steady on the distance if you are overweight. Just build up very steadily.
Tips for strengthening knees for running
You can do this by building up your distance gradually, and allowing rest and recovery time between runs to enable your joints and muscles to properly repair.
Developing strength in the butt will also help to prevent knee pain as it creates a more stable alignment for the kneecap.
Regular strengthening of the iliotibial band will also help.
Try exercises such as squats and glute bridges – both easy knee strengthening exercises at home.
Don’t give up running through knee pain, as with regular strength exercises you can overcome it and stop having to ask that question of why do my knees hurt when I run!