Relieving Runner Knee Pain – The Unrivaled Guide Prevention, Treatments, and Recovery to Heal and Bombproof Your Knees
Running is that simple sport of freedom.
There’s nothing between you and the runner’s high, or that sweet feeling of triumph. Anywhere you are, any moment you feel the urge.
Until… you start feeling something in your knee.
Maybe it’s a dull ache. Maybe it’s a sharp pain, like needles jabbed right into the side of your knee.
What used to be freeing sport that required nothing but your two feet suddenly becomes a little more worrisome. You try denying it, running through the pain. It’s just the burn right? It will go away.
Not so fast. You are playing with fire.
You are experiencing the runner’s early warning system. The longer you wait the more likely you’ll be stuck with longer term knee damage – or worse yet, surgery. So what do you do?
Lucky you, this is the penultimate resource guide for your running knee pain challenges. We’ll help you identify, prevent, and recover from knee pain. We’ll give you some inspiration and some support from those who’ve gone through the tough times of knee injury. And we’ll give you some of the science that is shaping our knowledge of the cause and the solution to knee problems in runners.
Naturally, I recommend you get professional opinions and guidance. Don’t gamble with your knees.
Now, lace up or go barefoot as we glide our way through the ultra marathon of runner’s knee pain guides so you can get back to running pain free.
Jump to a Section:
- Identify the Cause of Your Knee Pain, and Know When to See a Doctor
- Recovery and PT Exercises for Those Already in the Injury Zone
- Strengthening Exercises to Bombproof Your Knees
- The Right Running Form to be Faster, Better, and Knee Pain Free
- Recover Faster and Better by Treating Mind and Body
- Knee Injury Success Stories to Keep You Going and Back Running
- Returning to Running after an Injury – Getting Back up to Speed
Identify the Cause of Your Knee Pain, and Know When to See a Doctor
As runners, our knees take a beating.
The good news is… osteoarthritis of the knee is no more common in runners than non-runners. Yet, knee injuries still plague runners with things like Runner’s Knee and IT Band syndrome.
But we do use our knees–and a lot. In fact, one half to three quarters of all running injuries are related to overuse. Knee problems dominate overuse injuries, with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) leading the pack.”
Runner’s beware, but never fear. We have you covered.
First, it’s time to identify what your knee pain may be, what to do about it, and when to see a doctor…
Getting Back to Running
Whether a minor pain or a major tear… you know you aren’t messing with this time bomb.
It’s your knees! So you’re going to take care of them, right? Right, so let’s get started. There are a few major ways to get back on your feet and running without pain again – strengthening and form, recovery/PT exercises, and treating the mind and body to recover faster and better.
Recovery and PT Exercises for Those Already in the Injury Zone
It sucks. You hit a definitive injury and you’re out of the game…. for a while.
You’re coming back, no matter what it takes! These are some recovery exercises and stretches for knee related conditions. Some with a creative twist to vary your more routine recovery program.
Like prevention, recovery with many knee injuries involves strengthening and stretching from hips to knees.
Naturally, your particular injury will factor a lot in what best works for your recovery. And certain injuries may make it problematic for these exercises. So always check with a sports injury/rehab professional to get the best advice and guidance, and to avoid further injury.
- Post Run Recovery: High Knee Pool Exercise
- Running Knee Pain Exercise – Wedge Step Up (20cm) – VMO Strengthening
- Patellofemoral Syndrome Specific Quick and Easy Exercises
- Taping for Knee Pain – Using Kinesiology Tape for Knee Pain Relief and Improved Movement
Knee Pain Stretches & Exercise Routine from Ask Doctor Jo:
Not ready to tackle full knee strengthening exercises? Try this – Knee Isometric / Knee Setting Exercises:
Strengthening Exercises to Bombproof Your Knees
Here’s the thing:
Training prevents 63% of ACL knee injuries (based on a recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery).
On the other hand, recovery after injury is a slow and never-quite-good-as-new process. In other words, if you abuse it, you’re a lot more likely to lose it… and never be quite the same again.
Does that mean you can’t recover? Absolutely you can still do a lot to recover, to implement the proper form and training, and to reduce the pain. But why risk one of the most common runner’s injuries? Nip that knee pain in the bud early with proper strengthening and form.
Ya, I thought you might come around. Same goes for the Cross-fit junkies out there! Or even the tennis players.
So lets get started…
The Research: Why Knee Pain Often Starts with Weak Hips:
- The Study Behind Why You Need to Strengthen Your Hips
- Study Links Hip Instability, Runner’s Knee
- More Evidence Linking Runner’s Knee and Weak Hips
Exercises to Strengthen Where You’re Weak:
- Hip Stability Exercises to Prevent ITBS and Runner’s Knee … and how to tell if your hips are twerked!
- Simple But Effective Strengthening Exercises Aimed Right at the Knee
- The 2 Glutes Strengthening Exercises You Need to Power Your Hips
- IT Band Rehab and Strengthening Routine from a Marathon Runner Who Went Through the Knee Injury
Injury Prevention: 6 Moves to Protect Your Knees:
Knee Stability Exercises for Runners:
The Foam Roller:
The foam roller is a runner’s best friend, and Amanda Brooks shares a complete guide for runners »
And to get right into the foam roller exercises, here’s a quickie form roller lesson for runner’s:
The Right Running Form to be Faster, Better, and Knee Pain Free
Knee pain and knee injury most often comes from abuse. The problem is, you may not even realize it’s happening.
Your form may be out of whack, but you don’t know until the repeated stress on your knee gives in and starts screaming at you. You may not know for years.
Give your knees (and the rest of your body) some care and fix your form today. Here you’ll find a collection of resources for achieving the perfect runner’s form, reducing knee pain, and we’ll even touch on the barefoot running question.
You may find some immediate relief from your running pains just by adjusting your form.
Plus, you’ll soon be running faster and with more ease and flow!
The Right Form:
- The 3 Simple Cues to Run with the Right Form
- Perfect Your Form Infographic – “to run faster, longer, stronger, and injury-free”
- The 5 Points of Perfect Posture from 10 Year Triathlete Chris Thornham
- Running Cadence to Reduce Knee Stress: Using a Metronome to Improve Technique
- Forefront Running – a Simple Step for Potentially Big Relief
Recover Faster and Better by Treating Mind and Body
“There’s no two ways about it. If you run long enough, and hard enough, and throw yourself into an active life enough, you will at some stage face setbacks due to injuries.”
When you do, you want it to be as short and painless as possible. While you are addressing the muscle imbalances, improper form, and the stretches and exercises that ensure a long and happy running life… you might want a little help.
And in the process, you’ll be facing some demons, some challenges, and sometimes the desire to just give up.
Don’t give in! We’re starting with mindset for a reason. And then we’re diving right into the treatments that keep you going as your strengthening, form and exercises get you strong and bombproof again.
Treatments like acupuncture help relieve the pain and swelling as you strengthen and recover, while speeding your results.
Everything Starts and Ends with Mindset:
- Coping with Injury – the Psychology of Being Sidelined
- The Mental Side of Recovery and Coming Back Stronger
- Returning to the Sport after Injury
- Wise Advice When Injury Sidelines Your Training Schedule
Treatment Methods You May Not Have Thought of:
- Non-Traditional Treatments for Running Injuries
- 3 Studies Reveal the Pain Relief Effects of Acupuncture on Knee Pain
- Taping for the Knee
- Reflexology Treatment for Knee Pain – 7 Most Important Reflex Points
- A new study suggests that this easy form tweak will protect your joints—and make all that pounding hurt less (according to science)
Finally, we have yoga. While PT exercise and stretches are excellent and targeted options for recovering from knee pain or injury, here’s something to add to the mix, add variety, and bring some peace and ease to your life:
Yoga for the Knees – Sweet Relief from 5,000 Year Old Practices with :
Now that we have that taken care of, keep in mind these do not replace the next sections on strengthening, form, and recovery exercises. They complement them for pain relief and faster recovery.
Knee Injury Success Stories to Keep You Going and Back Running
You aren’t the first and you won’t be the last.
Learn from the stories of other who have gone through knee pain and knee injury to get back to running.
Particularly interesting is watching Lauren’s deep dive into the trials and emotional struggles facing knee pain, and her triumphant return to running pain free. We follow her in candid blog posts from the beginning of her journey and the mental/emotional upheavals, to the running pain free again and reflecting on the lessons she learned.
Lauren’s story post by post over four months is the most revealing of them all. But first, I’ll share a few other stories to learn from and inspire:
Returning to Running after an Injury – Getting Back up to Speed
Time to return to running.
Get out of the funk. Transition out of resting and recovery. Ramp back up to sweet running glory again. These resources are all about those injuries that knock you down and out, and now that you’ve healed, how to get back to running.
- 10 Critical Tips to Successfully Returning to Running
- How to Maintain Fitness While You’re Injured
- Full Guide to Getting Back to Top Running Form – Know When You’re Ready, How to Ramp Up, and What to Look Out For
- 8 Week Fitness Plan for Your Return to Running at Full Capacity
Stridetek’s 4 Part Series to Get You Back to Running:
I know, you’re itching to get back on your feet pain free.
If in doubt, seek professional help, particularly those with a focus in sports related medicine. I mean this so you work with someone that is not only qualified but will do their best to get you back to doing the running you love you to do.
Don’t give up or think this is the end. Pain and injury often has a reason, and that reason can be addressed. Sometimes it’s as simple as a muscle imbalance, a problem with your form, or an injury that just needs to heal.
We don’t want “No pain, no gain.” We want no pain, period.
Pain is not a sacrifice you need to make. But you may need a little help.
And as you are addressing the problem, I suggest you also try acupuncture to complement your recovery and help relieve the pain while you fix the problem. Acupuncture has been shown to help with knee pain and pain in general. Acupuncture, bodywork therapies, and Chinese medicine can help your healing process by reducing inflammation and promoting the body’s natural ability to heal.
If you’re in the Seattle area, come on in and see me. If not, get the help you need so you can be running again, pain free running free!