If you are having trouble with knee pain with running why not try the following 7 tips to reduce the pain so you can keep running.
Identify the problem activity and scale back
- Long runs: Does the pain only come on after 8km? Then run 7km and see if you can still reach your weekly mileage over more short runs.
- Fast runs: Only getting the pain when you up the pace? Run at a medium pace (pain-free) but increase the distance.
- Hills: If the pain is only provoked by hill training why not substitute a session on sprints? You can also do your runs by the canal or a river to ensure minimal elevation change.
- Sprints: Same advice as for hills, if sprints provoke your pain but hills don’t, swap the sprints for a hill session.
Identify training errors
- Volume: Most people use an app to track their runs. Pull up your activity history and switch it to week view or month view. If you see a big increase in volume around when the pain started you need to bring the volume back down to where your knee was feeling good.
- Rest: Is your pain worse if you run two days in a row? A simple 24 hours rest between runs rule often helps in this situation.
It’s probably not your shoes, so don’t bother changing them
- This is the number one thing on my clients list of potential contributing factors when they come in to see me with pain. It’s usually about number 20 on my list! Unless you changed your shoes and had pain within the week, look elsewhere for the reason.
- If it is your shoes, it’s usually pretty obvious. For example, you switched to the five fingers from some cushioned Brooks and had pain within a couple of weeks.
- The human body is AMAZING at adapting to stress. Tiny little changes in your shoes are unlikely to be causing your pain.
Incorporate some strength training
- Strength training has better evidence to support its ability to prevent injuries during sport than any other activity. It’s better than stretching, foam rolling, footwear, orthotics and even technique optimization. If you’re not incorporating at least 2 days a week of strength training, you’re increasing your injury risk.
- Strength training also improves the ability of your muscles to absorb impact. That means less impact on the joints and less knee pain. Focus on the gluts, quadriceps and hamstrings. If you would like more specific advice on what to do, just get in touch.
Check the technique
- Certain running styles cause you to direct the stress more to a certain area.
- If you have a long stride and a slow cadence, more stress will go to your knees.
- If you have a shorter stride and a faster cadence, more stress will go to you feet and ankles.
- If you are careful you can make small changes to your stride length and cadence and see if the pain lessens, If it does you can incorporate that technique change SLOWLY. For example you could run 20% of you total running volume for the week in the new style, then 30% the following week, and so on.
Stretching probably won’t help, so don’t bother
- If you go and see a physio about knee pain with running and they give you a few stretches and nothing else, please don’t go back.
- If reduced mobility/flexibility IS contributing to your problem then it’s most likely in a very specific area in a specific movement. You’re unlikely to be able to identify this without the help of an expert. Which brings me to my next point.
Get a specific diagnosis from a qualified professional
- If you’ve taken the time to read this article, I know one thing for certain. Your knee is bothering you. A lot. Most likely because it is interfering with your running. You’re probably also worried about doing more damage if you keep going.
- If you are this worried about your knee, get it looked at by a professional.
- I’d be more than happy to talk through the trouble you are having over the phone, free of charge. Just get in touch.
I know you may be apprehensive about booking a physio appointment. You don’t know if it will help. You may also have had less than perfect experiences in the past. That’s why I like to have a good chat with anyone who is interested in working with me before we make any decisions. I also try to get clients in for a free in-clinic discovery session. This gives us the chance to get to know one another so we can see if we would work well together. You can schedule your free in-clinic or phone consultation here.