Knee pain is a common issue for runners and there are a number of possible reasons why it can occur. Muscle weakness, poor running form, and the surface you’re running on can be contributing factors. From “Runner’s Knee” to IT Band Syndrome, continue reading to learn the 5 most common causes of knee pain for runners and how to treat them.
Get knee pain running? It’s not ideal, we know, but everything from sharp sensations to a little discomfort while you pavement pound are nothing new – they’re something that runners have experienced for yonks, whether it be down to the dreaded runner’s knee or otherwise. Knee pain (either during or after) running is totally normal.
In better news, though, there are lots that can be done about it, once you’ve determined whether it is said runner’s knee, or another cause. Consider this your full guide to making knee pain while running a thing of the past, as well as a handy method to picking the right running shoes for you (a big step to combatting the issue).
5 possible reasons you get knee pain running
People experience knee pain running for a number of reasons, and not all of them are possible to self-diagnose. If in doubt, reach out to a physical therapy specialist, either an osteopath or physiotherapist for expert advice.
If you’re looking for a bit more information about the most common causes and if your symptoms match up with any of them, keep reading. Osteopath Nadia Alibhai breaks down the five most common causes of knee pain when running.
1. Runner’s knee (kneecap pain)
‘One of the most common causes of knee pain running is weakness in the thigh muscles (quadriceps). Your quadriceps hold the kneecap in place so that it tracks smoothly,’ says Alibhai. ‘If the quads are weak when running or if there is a muscle imbalance, the kneecap can move left to right as opposed to smoothly up and down which can cause friction and irritation.’
How to tell: Wondering what runner’s knee feels like? Runner’s knee typically shows up as pain under the kneecap that feels worse after running and when you walk up and down the stairs.
2. Jumper’s knee (patellar tendinitis)
‘Running can lead to repeated stress on the patellar tendon which can lead to inflammation and, thus, knee pain running. This tendon connects the kneecap to the shinbone (tibia) which is responsible for extending the lower leg.’
How to tell: Patellar tendinitis shows up as pain below the kneecap as well as the top of your shin. It hurts when going up and down the stairs but can also worsen when running.
3. Meniscal tear
‘Runners are more likely to injure the medial meniscus (inside of the knee) rather than the lateral. Pain can be felt all over the knee with swelling over the knee, a popping sensation during the injury, knee stiffness (especially after sitting), the knee can feel locked and it can be difficult trying to bend or straighten the knee,’ explains Alibhai.