“Injuries and joint pain are unfortunately common in the sport of running. The knee is a frequent area for pain in a runner’s body, mainly due to the force of impact repeatedly applied to the leg with each step,” says Mark Puckett, MD, who is board-certified in family and sports medicine at Baptist Medical Associates (Eastpoint).
Tips For Avoiding Knee Pain While Running
Several types of knee problems can affect runners, such as stress fractures, sprains, tendonitis in one of several different muscles and chondromalacia patella (excess stress on the cartilage underneath the kneecap) are a few examples.
Knee injuries should be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. A knee injury could easily put a runner out of commission for an entire season of races.
To prevent knee pain while running, Dr. Puckett recommends the following:
- Stay Flexible. Inadequate flexibility in the muscles of the hip, thigh, and leg often contribute to pain in your knee while running. When muscles are inflexible, they can prevent normal joint movement and are prone to injury.
- Avoid running on uneven surfaces. Trails, gravel, and cobblestone pose threats for an easily twisted ankle or knee. Constantly running on a sloped surface or up and down hills can put small amounts of repetitive stress on structures and cause pain.
- Make sure you are wearing proper running shoes. Matching the right shoes to your feet will reduce knee pain. Failure to do so increases instability on the foot and thus the likelihood of pain from constant small-scale twisting in the joint.
- Listen to your body. If you start feeling pain during running, stop or at least modify the workout until the pain subsides.
“Remember that increasing your mileage or speed to quickly can lead to knee pain. If the pain doesn’t go away after resting or cutting back on your mileage, see your doctor. While a diagnosis can usually be found through a physical exam or watching a patient run on a treadmill, further testing, such as MRI, may be necessary,” Dr. Puckett adds.
Mark Puckett, MD
Mark Puckett, MD practices with Baptist Health Medical Associates Family & Sports Medicine at Baptist Health Eastpoint.