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Understanding Knee Pain: Why Does It Happen After Running or Working Out?


runner's knee

Have you ever felt that post-jog ache in your knees? Well, you’re not alone. 

For active people, knee pain is a very common issue, so the first step to overcoming it would be understanding the root of the cause. In this blog, we’ll discuss the common causes, prevention, and recommended management strategies. Knee pain is a common issue for active people, but understanding why it happens is the first step to overcoming it and keeping yourself moving. In this blog, we’ll discuss the common causes of knee pain, how to prevent it, and the best ways to manage it when it strikes.

Repetitive or Overused  Strains

Imagine a tendon as a rope. If you repeatedly pull it taut, the fibres may tear and weaken. Similarly, repetitive strain from sports such as running, cycling, lunges, squats, and jumping exercises can irritate the tissues in your knee and cause discomfort. This is especially true if the exercise is performed improperly or with too much intensity.

Imagine a tendon as a rope, if you continuously pull the same fibers, it can tear and weaken. A repetitive strain comes about when you perform an exercise, such as running or cycling, improperly or too intensely. This gradual use of your knees can lead to the tissues being irritated and, overall, cause major discomfort. 

Exhausted female runner, holding her kneesHow to Prevent these Strains:

Progress Gradually: The key is to listen to your body and slowly ramp up the intensity. This can be in terms of duration, frequency, and/or distance. Instead of going from a 30-minute leisurely walk weekly to a 1-hour-long run daily, start by increasing the duration by 5-10 minutes a week, or walk 3-4 times a week instead and gradually make your way up. This logic applies to all forms of exercise. The key is to pace yourself and understand what you can and cannot handle. Instead of going from a 30-minute stroll to an hour-long run, gradually increase the length by 5-10 minutes each week. The same logic applies to distance while running or cycling, as well as adding weight to activities.

Rest and recovery: Typically, our bodies need 48 hours to recover completely from strenuous activity. This is why it’s important to schedule rest days and/or low-impact activities such as swimming, yoga, or pilates. Even when you get fitter or stronger, you must give your body the much-needed rest to prevent overuse injuries that can occur.  

Strengthening and proper form: Strengthening the muscles that surround the knee joint (such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves) can increase support and stability while, overall, minimising joint stress. Make sure you are maintaining proper form when training or working out to prevent and minimise muscle injury. Also, keeping appropriate form throughout workouts ensures that you are training the correct muscles and reduces the danger of injury.

Remember, respecting your body’s limits, pacing yourself correctly, implementing rest and recovery, strengthening the supporting muscles, and keeping perfect form will help reduce the likelihood of knee discomfort and keep your knees healthy for an active lifestyle.

The Biomechanics and Consequences of Using Incorrect Form

wearing proper running shoesOur bodies function like machines. When components are misaligned, they grind and wear unevenly. This is exactly what occurs to our knees when we do activities with poor form or biomechanics. We place unneeded tension and pressure on the joint, increasing the likelihood of pain and damage.

Consider running as an example. Landing hard on our heels instead of the midfoot or forefoot causes shockwaves to go up our legs, jolting our knees with each step. Similar to this, during squats or lunges, incorrect alignment or excessive forward knee movement can put unnecessary strain on the knee.

Several online resources and videos show good techniques for different workouts. Consulting a qualified fitness professional may also be helpful because they can evaluate your specific approach and give personalised advice.

Contributing factors that you may have overlooked:

Wearing the right shoes. We wouldn’t want to climb a mountain in flip flops, so investing in well-fitting, supportive trainers that are tailored to your chosen activity is vital. This can significantly reduce knee strain and improve overall comfort. Some good brands that specialise in running shoes include Hokas, Brooks, or New Balance (insert what makes good running shoes different from basic running shoes from Adidas – something about the toe box being small, not having enough support, no arch support as everyone has different feet shapes)

Posture. Maintaining proper posture when running or weightlifting helps distribute forces evenly throughout our body and, therefore, can decrease the stress on our knees. By keeping our spine straight, shoulders back, and core engaged when needed, we can protect our knees and reduce the likelihood of discomfort or damage.

Muscle imbalances. They develop when the muscles around the knee joint become unevenly strong or tight or as a result of repeated motions, poor posture, or favouring one side of your body during activities. When some muscles become hyperactive or underactive in comparison to their counterparts, the knee might be pulled out of alignment, increasing the risk of an injury.

Tight muscles in the quadriceps, hamstrings, or calves can potentially put too much tension on the knee joint. Think of stiff muscles as taut rubber bands that limit mobility and may cause pain or inflammation.

Stretching and strengthening activities are necessary for addressing these concerns and maintaining healthy knees. Stretching helps to extend the tight muscles surrounding the knee, increasing flexibility and lowering the chance of strain or injury. Stretches that target the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and IT band can help you achieve balanced muscle length and optimal joint function.

Strengthening exercises are also essential for correcting muscle imbalances and increasing overall knee stability. By focusing on particular muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip abductors, you may improve knee balance and support. Squats, lunges, leg presses, and bridges are terrific exercises for increasing lower-body strength and stability.

Remember, focusing on proper form and biomechanics is similar to following a recipe: it guarantees that everything works together smoothly, ensuring you help maintain your knees to be balanced, flexible, and injury-resistant. Remember to listen to your body, start slowly, and seek advice from a healthcare expert if you’re not sure where to begin. With persistent effort and attention to these criteria, you may greatly minimise your risk of knee discomfort while living a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Underlying Injuries and Conditions

How to Prevent Runner's Knee - Knee Pain DiagramPersistent knee pain may indicate an underlying issue requiring medical care. Don’t disregard it; like a dashboard warning light, it might suggest a more serious issue down the line. Runner’s knee and patellar tendinitis are two prevalent causes of persistent knee pain, which can develop over time as a result of repetitive motions or unexpected impacts.

Runner’s Knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a common condition among athletes and other physically active persons. It produces discomfort behind or around the kneecap, which is commonly characterised as dull, aching, or throbbing. Running, squatting, or climbing stairs may make the pain worse.

Overuse, muscular imbalances, and biomechanical difficulties can all play a role, though the specific cause is not always evident. A runner’s knee develops when the kneecap does not track properly in the thigh bone groove, resulting in increased pressure and discomfort.

In addition to discomfort, people with runner’s knee may feel swelling, popping or grinding sensations, and trouble bending or straightening their knees.

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), as well as strengthening exercises, are commonly used to correct muscle imbalances and knee alignment. Physiotherapy can help people overcome biomechanical difficulties and return to pain-free exercise. Orthotics or knee braces may be advised to provide further support.

With proper treatment and rehabilitation, most patients with runner’s knee may effectively return to their prior level of activity and enjoy pain-free movement. However, addressing contributory variables and adhering to a progressive return-to-activity plan is critical to avoiding recurrence.

Patellar tendinitis, often known as jumper’s knee, is a common overuse condition involving the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone. It manifests gradually, with symptoms including discomfort, soreness, and swelling right below the kneecap.

This ailment is especially frequent in athletes who compete in sports that require repetitive leaping or kicking actions, such as basketball, volleyball, or football. Repetitive stress on the patellar tendon can cause minor rips or inflammation, resulting in pain and discomfort.

Patellar tendinitis patients may experience discomfort when jumping, landing, or jogging, as well as stiffness and difficulties bending or straightening their knees.

Relieving Pain. Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used to relieve pain and swelling. Physiotherapy is crucial for strengthening the muscles around the knee and increasing flexibility to relieve strain on the patellar tendon.

In severe cases, advanced treatment options such as corticosteroid injections or surgery may be explored. However, these methods are often the last choice because of the potential hazards and prolonged recovery time. 

With proper treatment and rehabilitation, most people with patellar tendinitis may effectively return to their prior level of activity without long-term repercussions. Remember to listen to your body, and get medical attention if you have persistent or worsening symptoms.

Physiotherapy for Runner’s Knee

Physiotherapy for Runner's KneePhysiotherapists may make a significant difference for runners suffering from knee pain. They are very capable of diagnosing and treating a runner’s knee, employing a multifaceted strategy to get you back on track. Here’s how physical therapy may help:

Comprehensive Assessment: Physiotherapists will do an extensive assessment that includes a review of your medical history, running habits, and a physical examination to measure your gait, muscle strength, flexibility, and joint alignment, to identify the underlying reasons for your runner’s knee. 

Targeted Exercise Programmes: Based on the examination, physiotherapists create personalized exercise programmes that meet your individual requirements. 

These programmes usually include:

  • Strength training: Exercises that target the muscles surrounding the knee joint, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes, are essential for increasing stability and correcting muscular imbalances. Stronger muscles can provide greater support for the knee joint and absorb shock when running.
  • Flexibility exercises: Stretching tight muscles such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, and IT band can increase range of motion and minimise kneecap stress.
  • Proprioceptive training: Exercises that increase your body’s awareness of joint position and movement (proprioception) can improve balance and stability, lowering your risk of future injury.

Manual Therapy Techniques: Physiotherapists can use a variety of manual treatment techniques, such as massage, joint mobilisation, and dry needling, to increase flexibility, decrease pain and inflammation, and promote healing.

Education and Gait Analysis: Education is an essential component of physiotherapy. Physiotherapists will teach you appropriate running mechanics including foot strike, posture, and stride length. They may also examine your running form using video records or specialised equipment to uncover any biomechanical inefficiencies that are contributing to your knee pain. Correcting these inefficiencies allows you to run more effectively and with less stress on your knees.

Pain Management Strategies: Physiotherapists can advise on pain management techniques like as ice, taping, and anti-inflammatory drugs to deal with discomfort during the healing period.

Physiotherapy may successfully treat the underlying reasons of runner’s knee while also improving strength, flexibility, and running mechanics, allowing you to return to pain-free running and reach your running objectives.

Recover from Running Injuries Faster and Stronger at Premier Sports

Premier Sports Medicine Runner's Knee Physio TreatmentKnee pain or another injury shouldn’t sideline you. At Premier Sports and Spinal Medicine, we help runners recover quickly and get back to pain-free running. Our team of over 40 experienced specialists has helped thousands of runners overcome injuries and achieve their running goals.

What sets us apart? We understand runners. We’re affiliated with local running clubs and events, and many of our therapists are runners themselves.  This means we understand the unique challenges runners face and can tailor treatment plans specifically for your needs.

The Runner’s Recovery Package: Your Path Back to the Track

Our Runner’s Recovery Package is a comprehensive solution designed to get you back on track quickly.  With expert physiotherapists and doubled consultation time, we’ll diagnose the cause of your pain and create a personalized plan to get you back to full strength. In many cases, runners see significant improvement within weeks.

Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a weekend jogger, our package is designed for runners of all levels dealing with common injuries like knee pain, shin splints, and Achilles tendonitis.

Stop the Frustration – Start Your Recovery Today

Don’t let pain keep you off track. Call Premier Sports today to learn more about the Runner’s Recovery Package and book your consultation. Take control of your recovery and get back to doing what you love—pain-free running.


Couple running together

Knee pain after running or working out is common, but it doesn’t have to control you. By understanding the causes and taking proactive steps, you can take charge of your knee health and keep them strong for years to come. Premier Sports and Spinal Medicine is here to support you on your journey – but remember, the power to feel great starts with you!

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