Knee pain is one of the most common overuse injuries in sport.
It is not uncommon to injury either one or both knees during running, especially when you start out until your joints and tissues are accustomed to the demand and load. You don’t need to be new to the sport to suffer this debilitating joint problem though. Even seasoned athletes develop knee pain, and there are many different reasons.
The knee is a major joint with limited support from ligaments unlike other joints of the body, and it can be easily compromised in the right situation. Forces being applied to the knee are either ascending from the foot and lower leg or descending from the hip joint, pelvis and upper body. If there is an imbalance in any way between these structures, then the knee is likely to be subject to tissue stress.
What are the common causes of knee pain?
There are many causes of knee pain and each of these need to be considered in your quest for a solution. These include:
- Excessive pronation (lowering on the medial arch) of the feet.
- High arch feet.
- Leg length inequality.
- Poor shoes and training habits.
- Excessive body weight.
- Illness and arthritis.
- Weak muscles.
- Running on hard surfaces.
- Previous trauma.
How can I improve my knee pain?
There are many things you can do to resolve your knee pain. These include:
- Replacing old running shoes with new ones.
- Increasing the support in the shoes if the old ones are lacking.
- Researching strength and conditioning exercises on YouTube and doing them daily.
- Reduce your training intensity if you haven’t already.
- Lose any extra weight that you can.
- See a good physio who will rehab your knee(s).
- A specialist podiatrist can assess your posture, biomechanics and gait pattern.
- They will also assess your running style and tidy it up.
- They may also dispense bespoke orthotics for your shoes. These will deal with any leg length inequality and abnormal foot motion.
Wearing knee support is an excellent short-term solution, but can eventually encourage muscle weakness if you become too dependent on it every time you run. My advice to you is to deal with the simple things first and if not successful book a biomechanics assessment and gait analysis with a reputable running podiatrist. They should be able to tell you if you need a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon for a scan, that may reveal damage within the knee.