Why do my knees hurt when I run

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The knees are very complex joints and one of the most important parts of the locomotor system of our body. These joints are formed by the union of two bones that are the tibia and the femur, in addition to a small diameter called the patella. Its movement allows the leg to extend or bend, making it the most important joint for a runner. It is very common for most first-time runners, those who are just starting in this discipline, to experience ailments in this part of the body, although this discomfort may well appear in anyone who meets the necessary conditions. With this article from FastlyHeal , we will try to give you an answer to the question of why do my knees hurt when I run, whether you play sports or not.

Why do my knees hurt when I run

Iliotibial band friction syndrome

It is also called the “runner’s knee.” This is one of the most common causes of this feeling. But not only occurs among runners, this injury also appears among those who practice cycling. This condition is characterized by the presence of pain in the lateral part of the knee , which appears only a few minutes after starting the training and that progressively increases in intensity until you can no longer run. This injury is due to a compression that occurs in a layer of fat located in the iliotibial band, which is a tendon located on the outside of the leg and lateral part of the femur. The pain originates because within this fatty layer there are a large number of nerve endings.


It is the inflammation of the soft tissues located in the knee. The bursitis occurs when too much is used a joint, in this case knees running excessively, causing inflammation of the bursa is a bag of small size and having the function of protecting and cushioning the bones of the joint, in addition to its attached elements such as muscles, tendons or skin.


It is the inflammation of the patellar tendon , which is a highly resistant fibrous rope-like tissue that connects muscles to bones. Its appearance is produced after a blow or after an excessive effort. It is very common in those who play sports, although it can also occur in people of advanced ages and this is due to a loss of elasticity. In the following FastlyHealarticle we will talk about knee tendonitis .


It is the inflammation of a membrane that covers the knee joint , called the synovial membrane. This membrane contains synovial fluid, white in color and viscous texture, which will act as lubrication to avoid friction between the joint, since in its absence this friction would be extremely painful. The origin of synovitis can appear after a blow, a twist, after a bad posture or due to an infectious disease such as gout.

Inadequate technique

Although each person does not run the same as another and has their own technique, it is important to avoid making certain mistakes that can cause knee pain when running. Studies have shown that running very slowly or stepping on the heel , the so-called “heel” puts even more load on the knees, which is of little benefit to this joint.


It is the wear or degeneration of the articular cartilage present in our knees. This pathology can be caused by many factors, but what these factors have in common is that there is pain and it appears after doing some physical activity. The arthrosis can be caused by age, obesity, sports for many years, fractured knee joint diseases, among others.

Other causes

There are other conditions that promote knee pain when running that do not necessarily arise from injury or illness. For example, overweight people place a greater load on this joint, which causes pain. Another factor may be the use of inappropriate footwear , for this there are specific shoes for runners, or people with flat feet, which generate greater stress on the knees. Those with weak muscles due to lack of exercise or those who do not warm up properly.

My knee hurts after running: treatment

Treatment for these conditions is generally conservative. Once the traumatologist, who is the doctor in charge of this area, has diagnosed the injury, the main thing that he will indicate is the interruption of exercise and applying anti- inflammatory drugs such as the use of NSAIDs, since the pain appears after an inflammation of an area.

In case the injury does not improve, a physiotherapist should be attended , in charge of indicating a series of exercises to alleviate the symptoms and to strengthen the muscles, which will improve the condition.

If there is an area with a lot of pain that does not improve with the aforementioned treatment, an injection can be applied at that point with corticosteroids, to alleviate the symptoms that generally appear on palpation.

The surgery should be the last option in some cases, this method is used when all else has failed and the pain is unbearable. In the same way, the traumatologist is the one who will dictate the treatment to be followed for each condition.

After having adequate rest, the runner can rejoin but progressively, that is, starting races of very short duration and then increasing it.

What is good for knee pain when running

Some recommendations to avoid knee pain when running are:

  • Use adequate footwear : it should be taken into account that you must wear suitable running shoes, because many times the problem begins with the feet due to inadequate support, this is because you need correct cushioning according to your footprint and the terrain where you run
  • Adequate weight: it is important to maintain an adequate weight with respect to your height, because if you are overweight you will put more pressure on your knees, which can cause an injury to them and pain when running.
  • Stretching : you must inform yourself which is the best way to run and to avoid injuries. Specialists such as orthopedists recommend stretching exercises at least 20 minutes before running, this reduces the risk of knee pain.
  • Avoid drastic changes : when you go for a run you should increase the power gradually.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do my knees hurt when I run , we recommend that you enter our Bones, Joints and Muscles category .

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