It’s well known that running can be great for your health, helping people lose weight and get in shape, all while letting us enjoy the outdoors as we do it. Unfortunately, running can also be hard on your body and result in knee pain, especially if you’re not careful about the shoes you wear or the way you run.
While there are a variety of issues like plantar fasciitis that affect runners, knee pain and knee injuries are an all too common problem for many runners. The more often that this knee pain happens, the less likely a runner will be to continue running for fear of further injury and damage to their knee.
The following are the most common reasons why runners experience knee pain before, during or after their run:
Knee Cap Pain aka Runner’s Knee
The most commonly referred knee pain runners experience is dubbed, of course, runner’s knee. Runners knee in most cases feels like pain or aching directly underneath the kneecap while running. Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral knee syndrome, occurs at the patellofemoral (or kneecap joint) where it joins with the femur.
Your knees play a crucial role while running, and as a result are placed under a great deal of stress as your body weight impacts your knees during your run.
Meniscus and Cartilage Tears
One of the other more common causes of knee pain in general is the result of cartilage damage or tears that occur over time. While not always common in runners, cartilage damage and injuries are a growing source of pain for many runners.
These tears can result from slipping, falling or even age-related injuries in runners as the cartilage degenerates over time, and with the repeated impact of running can become worse. In many cases where a meniscus tear or cartilage damage has occurred, common symptoms include both pain and swelling in the knee joint.
Illiotibial Band Inflammation (IT Band)
The illiotibial band is a connective tissue on that runs from the outer hip and attaches below the knee. In general, this type of injury occurs as the result of overuse from the repetitive action of running.
IT band pain most commonly occurs after you’ve been running for a certain period of time or over long distances, and generally consists of pain on the outer side of the knee. Like plantar fasciitis, symptoms of IT band issues may occur as you’re running and subside when you’ve finished, only to reappear when you begin activity again.
Tendonitis (Patellar Tendinopathy)
The patellar tendon is a band of tissue that connects the kneecap to the lower leg and is a common cause of pain and injury in runners. Like IT band issues, it occurs from overuse (or repeat use) from the repetitive motions of running.
Patellar Tendinopathy is referred to by many names in various situations, including tendonitis, but is characterized by pain in the front of the knee. It can often be confused with or in conjunction with kneecap pain, but the source of the injury may be different. PT related pain is usually associated with excess strain and repeat use, and pain may get worse over time, especially while running.