Why can running cause knee pain?
One of the main causes of knee pain is running. This is not because running is a particularly dangerous exercise, but because it is a popular form of exercise – it’s easy to do close to home, and you don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment.
This is why knee pain that results from exercise is often called runner’s knee, even though other exercises can also cause sore knees.
Knee pain during or after running can be caused by a number of factors - weight, technique, over-exercising, or a poorly healed injury. Read my blog post on knee pain after running for more information.
5 gentle exercises to relieve knee pain that results from running
Preventing knee pain is all about building the muscles around the knee and in the legs to help provide support and cushioning. When using exercise to relieve painful or stiff knees, it is vital you avoid exercises that involve excessively bending the knees such as deep squats or deep lunges. Keep knee exercises gentle to prevent causing any further damage to the joint – take it slow and you’ll benefit more for it.
I’ve recommended some gentle exercises that will help build strength without causing any further damage:
- Wall sit: stand against a wall with your feet about two feet in front of you, and slowly slide down the wall until your legs form a 90 degree angle. Your feet should be directly below your knees, so you may need to adjust them slightly. Stand up and repeat
- Leg extension: while sitting on a chair with your feet on the ground and your legs at a 90 degree angle, lift one foot up so that your leg is horizontal. Hold for 5 seconds then lower and repeat with the other leg
- Toe taps: lie on your back with your knees above your hips and your lower legs parallel to the floor. Gently tap your feet alternately towards the ground
- Partial squats: standing about a foot away from a chair with your feet about hips-width apart, slowly lower halfway down to the chair. Keep your abs tight and make sure your knees don’t go over your toes
- Knee-to-chest: lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Gently pull one knee up towards the chest, being careful not to arch the back, which should remain flat against the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, lower the knee, and repeat with the other leg. This can also be done standing up by balancing on one leg, and lifting the opposite knee up to your chest.
To prevent knee injuries as a result of running, it is also important to warm up and cool down before and after running. A brisk 5 minute walk before your run will warm up your muscles to prevent injury, and a brisk 5 minute walk after your run will help slow the body down gently to prevent a build-up of toxins which can cause cramp and stiffness. Remember to stretch before and after exercising too!
What other relief is there?
For quick relief of knee pain from running, try an arnica gel like Atrogel on the affected area to soothe pain and stiffness.
If your knee pain is persistant and recurring, try our Devil's Claw tablets, which, when used every day, can reduce inflammation, pain and stiffness of joints and muscles.