Knee Pain When Running: Causes and Treatments

Knee pain from running can be quite painful, and if left untreated, it may keep you from running again. Identify the root cause of your knee problem and resolve it.

Even if you think you run in a perfect form, you may still end up dealing with muscle strains and injuries. Sometimes, the injury is not related to your calf, feet, or leg, but it affects your knee directly. Knee pain can keep you from running and stop you from going for that 10k that you have been training for several months. What you should bear in mind though is that running itself is not bad for your knees. You may be experiencing knee pain for different reason – your form is incorrect and need some tweaking. It could also be due to an ailment called runner's knee. It is therefore important to find out what's causing knee pain after running to take some steps that would improve your condition.

What Causes Knee Pain from Running?

If you're experiencing pain after running, it is usually going to be below your kneecap. The pain is not that severe in the beginning; in fact, you may experience it only when you're actually running. It, however, becomes rather intense with time and you experience it even when you're resting. Here are some of the reasons why you're experiencing running knee pain:

  • Apart from running, some people involve in high stress exercises such as plyometric or lunges. This may irritate the kneecap joint and cause overuse injuries. Similarly, you may experience pain in the knee due to overstretched tendons.
  • A direct injury to your knee may lead to pain and swelling. You may experience pain while running if you have injured your knee due to a blow or fall.
  • You may experience knee pain when running if one of your bones isn't in correct position. This misalignment may lead to physical stress that can cause severe pain. It is worth mentioning that sometimes the kneecap itself is misaligned.
  • You may experience runner's knee if you have certain problems with your feet, like a condition called hypermobile feet in which the joints of your feet move more than what's considered normal. You may also notice pain in knees if you have flat feet or fallen arches.
  • One of many reasons why you're feeling knee pain running is that you have weak thigh muscles. This usually exerts more pressure on isolated areas of your kneecap during running and causes abnormal wear.

How to Deal with Knee Pain When Running

You can try different remedies and treatment options to alleviate knee pain when running and knee pain after running. Here are some suggestions:


What to Do

Give your knee some rest

You should take a break from running and avoid putting weight on your affected knee for a few days at least.

Use ice packs

Using ice will prove beneficial if you have pain and swelling. Apply ice packs for half an hour every 4 hours for a couple of days.

Compress your knee

It is possible to find patellar straps, elastic bandages, and sleeves that you can use to compress and support your knee.


Keeping your knee in an elevated position will always help.

Use arch supports for shoes

You can take advantage of orthotics for arch support and reduce the pain sensation.

Use anti-inflammatory medications

If your pain isn't responding to simple self-care measures, you may consider using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Aleve, Advil, or Motrin. These drugs will reduce swelling and pain. Please note that these drugs may cause ulcers, bleeding and other side effects, so take them occasionally or only when your doctor have prescribed them.

Perform stretching exercises

Doing specific strengthening and stretching exercises will go a long way in keeping your knee in a good shape. Be sure to ask a physical therapist about the stretches you can perform on your own.

Try These Stretches

You can, however, try simple stretches, like you can lie on the floor with your affected leg on top and slowly bend your upper leg in a way that your foot goes toward your bottom. Hold this position with your other hand while making sure your knees are touching together. Maintain the hold for 45 seconds at least.

Here are more knee pain stretches and exercises:


It is worth pointing out that while stretches may help with knee pain when running, but sometimes the pain and swelling just won't go. Don't waste more time and consult your doctor immediately. They will prescribe medications and explain how to perform stretches correctly.

Can You Still Run?

It is usually a good idea to avoid running while you're still experiencing pain in the knee. You may consult your GP and discover how long it will take you to return to your running routine.

How to Prevent Knee Pain from Running

Instead of trying ways to reduce your knee pain, you can take certain steps to actually prevent knee pain when running. Here's what to do:

  • Be sure to exercise regularly to strengthen your thigh muscles
  • Make use of orthotics or inserts for shoes especially if you have specific foot problems
  • Be sure to invest on shoes that have enough support for your feet
  • Don’t run on concrete or other hard surfaces
  • Pay attention to your diet to maintain a healthy body weight
  • Don’t change the intensity or duration of your workout quickly or suddenly
  • Use a knee brace when running or performing other exercises to avoid runner's knee
  • Don't over-train your body or the physical pressure will lead to pain in your knees
  • Above all, you need to understand the importance of warming up and cooling down your body before and after every running session.
  • You should stick to a combination of strengthening, stretching, and cardiovascular exercises to avoid dealing with knee pain when running.
  • Maintain proper form when running, as explained in the following video:

If you want to find more exercises for bad knees, click here

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