Why Do Knees Hurt After Running?

knee pain after running shin pain
We've all been there—you're in the middle of a great workout when your knees suddenly sting from pain. It isn't very pleasant and can disrupt your whole routine, even making you end the run early. If you're an avid runner or jogger, chances are you've experienced the phenomenon of 'Runner's Knee' at some point. But why does this happen? And what can you do to make your running sprees less hard on your joints? Read on to find out!

What is a runner's knee?

Runner's knee is a condition that can cause pain around the kneecap. The pain is often worse when running or after sitting for long periods. Runner's knee is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage that protects the bones in the knee joint. Over time, this cartilage can break down, causing pain and swelling. Unsurprisingly, it’s called the ‘Runner’s Knee’ because it’s a condition often experienced by those who run frequently!

Why does it happen?

When you exercise, you're fundamentally putting stress on your joints. This is especially true if you're doing high-impact activities like running or jumping. This stress isn’t necessarily bad! But sometimes, when we follow incorrect techniques or push ourselves too much, the repetitive nature of these activities can contribute to, and sometimes worsen, knee pain. Several factors can contribute to a runner's knee.

Overuse injuries

One of the most common reasons for a runner's knee is overuse injuries. These overuse injuries can occur when we put too much stress on our joints without giving them time to rest and recover. This is why taking regular breaks from running and cross-training with other activities, such as swimming or biking, is essential. Use our Mighty Mint Pain Relief Spray as a post-workout recovery routine to prevent deep pain!

Poor alignment

Another common cause of a runner's knee is poor alignment. If your hips, knees, and ankles are not correctly aligned when you run, this can put unnecessary stress on your joints, which eventually causes pain. Wearing shoes with proper support and cushioning can help alleviate this problem!

Weak muscles

Weak muscles around the knee joint can also make matters worse. Strengthening the muscles around the joint (including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes) can help take some of the pressure off the joint and reduce pain.

Arthritis or other inflammatory conditions

Occasionally, a runner's knee may be caused by arthritis or other inflammatory conditions such as gout or bursitis. If you suspect this may be the case, seeing a doctor is important to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.

When to seek proper treatment

The knee is a complex joint of bones, ligaments, tendons, and fluid-filled sacs called bursae. When we put stress on our knees during exercise, it's not uncommon for one or more of these structures to become irritated or inflamed. Sometimes, when the problem persists longer than usual, it could be because of an underlying issue.

Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, tiny fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate the joints. Bursitis is caused by repetitive motions that stress the bursae, such as running or squatting. It can also be tendonitis or inflammation of the tendons, which are the tough ropes of tissue that connect muscles to bones. This is caused by overuse or repetitive motions that stress the tendons! Yet another common cause that impacts many is arthritis — a general term for conditions involving joint inflammation. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by joint wear and tear, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation.

Best practices to prevent knee pain

  • Make sure to warm up before running and cool down afterwards. This will help loosen your muscles and prevent them from tightening up, preventing any pulls or tears!
  • Invest in a good pair of running shoes that support and cushion your feet.
  • Stretching is underrated! Don’t skip out on it.
  • If you're starting to experience pain in your knees, try using cold therapy to reduce swelling and inflammation. You can also try our Mess Less Pain Roll On for your post-workout recovery!

How can knee pain be relieved?

While a runner's knee is usually not serious, it can be painful and lead to long-term joint damage if left untreated. Treatment for knee pain depends on the underlying cause. Still, some universal tips are usually helpful in relieving knee pain, such as using cold therapy, wearing a knee brace, and in more persistent cases, using medicines and physical therapy. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends using a brace to prevent knee pain while running: a great preventative hack! There is some evidence gathered by a study in the journal "PLoS One" in 2016 that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent and relieve knee pain while jogging.

Most people with a runner's knee can return to their previous activity level with proper treatment. However, it is crucial to always listen to your body and seek medical attention if the pain does not improve.

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