Runners often push through knee pain to optimize performance. But knee pain after running is the body’s way of sending a distress signal to indicate overuse. Ignoring pain and continuing to run can lead to more severe conditions such as a breakdown of cartilage underneath the knee.
Because the knee joints serve as the body’s natural shock absorbers, knee pain after running is common. Recognizing the common causes of knee pain after running can help alleviate the pain.
If you are experiencing pain in knee after running, you may have Runner’s Knee or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Runner’s Knee describes pain and stiffness that occurs around the front of the knee or kneecap and causes difficulty with daily activities such as climbing stairs or kneeling.
Runner’s Knee arises when nerves sense pain around the kneecap and in the tendons, the synovial tissue lining the knee joint, and the fat below the kneecap. It can also arise in the form of Chondromalacia patella, a condition in which the cartilage underneath the kneecap softens and degenerates.
Runner’s Knee can occur due to strenuous activities such as running, jogging, squatting, or climbing stairs. It can also be caused by changes in the frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise, improper exercise techniques, or improper footwear.
Pain in the knee caused by Runner’s Knee can be alleviated by wearing orthotics or a knee brace, avoiding sudden changes in workout intensity, and switching to low-impact activities such as swimming or bicycling.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
If you are experiencing pain on the outer side of the knee or hip, you may have Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), a condition that occurs when the IT band on the lateral part of the knee joint becomes inflamed.
The IT band consists of fibers that begin on the boundary of the most noticeable pelvic bone and connect to the tibia, or shinbone. ITBS arises from irritation or friction in the IT band.
ITBS can be caused by repeated extension or flexion of the knee due to running, cycling, or other high-impact, aerobic activities. It can also be caused by internal tibial rotation, over-pronation of the foot during activity, or a lack of flexibility in the IT band.
Pain in knee after running caused by ITBS can be alleviated by introducing proper stretching techniques to increase the flexibility of the ITB and gluteus, massaging the tissue of the sore ITB, wearing proper footwear, or obtaining custom-made orthotics.
Knee Tendon Bursitis
If you are experiencing pain and tenderness that occurs 2-3 inches below the knee joint on the inside of the knee, you may have Knee Tendon Bursitis or Pes Anserine Bursitis. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae between the shinbone and the tendons of the hamstring on the inside of the knee
The bursae are fluid-filled sacs between the bones and the soft issues that help reduce friction. Bursitis arises when the bursae become irritated and produce fluid that causes them to swell.
Bursitis can be caused by friction and stress on the bursae due to excessive running, walking, or other vigorous physical activities. It can also be caused by an outward turning of the knee, osteoarthritis, obesity, tears of the meniscus, or improper stretching techniques.
Pain in the knee caused by Knee Tendon Bursitis can be alleviated through the avoidance of stairs and climbing, physical therapy including stretching of the hamstring muscles, antibiotics, corticosteroid injections, or surgical removal of the bursae.
Contact Manhattan Orthopedic Care for a consultation regarding your knee pain after running or other high-intensity exercise.