Running is a great means of maintaining good health and staying in peak physical shape. It’s also good for your mental wellbeing. On the other hand, jogging places a significant amount of stress on your legs, especially your knees. And if you love running or jogging, being sidelined by a knee injury can be frustrating. Furthermore, if knee issues are not handled properly, they can keep you away from jogging, for extended periods. Therefore, if you want to keep enjoying the benefits that jogging offers, you need to learn how to identify the common causes of knee pain and how you can deal with such issues. Here are some of the most common causes of knee pain after jogging and how you can alleviate the pain.
Just like the name suggests, jogging and running are the main causes of runner’s knee. However, any physical activity that constantly stresses your knee joints can lead to this problem. Therefore, hikers, triathletes, and serious walkers are also at risk of runner’s knee. Apart from high-stress exercises, unbalanced or weak thigh muscles can also lead to runner’s knee. Also, if the bones from the hips to the ankles are not properly aligned, your knee cap might not move smoothly, thus causing pain. A direct hit to your knees, either from a blow or fall can also contribute to runner’s knee. Symptoms include pain when walking, standing, climbing stairs, running, sitting down, kneeling and any other activity that involves the knees.
Your physician will recommend treatment based on the root of the problem. In most cases, runner’s knee will improve on its own, using home remedies. To ensure faster speed and recovery, you should rest the problematic knee as much as possible. Also, avoid any activity that can place a strain on the painful knee or anything that might aggravate the problem such as sitting, lunging, squatting, or prolonged standing. Icing your knee for 10 to 15 minutes every 3 hours for approximately 2 days should provide some pain relief. Wrapping the knee with an elastic band will provide some extra support, thus helping to minimize unnecessary movements. Your doctor might also recommend anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to help with the swelling and pain. Stretching and strengthening exercises that target your quadricep muscles might also help to alleviate the problem. Custom orthotics and arch supports can also help to align and support your feet properly.
If you can still experience knee pain even after trying the above techniques, then your physician might ask you to consult an orthopedic surgeon. While it’s rare, you might be forced to undergo knee surgery – as a last resort. The surgeon will replace or remove the damaged cartilage or even correct the positioning of your knee cap if it’s misaligned.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, approximately 31 million adults have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. If you have this condition, you will experience mild pain in your knees after jogging or standing for long periods. The pain will then improve when you rest. You might also experience some knee stiffness in the morning, which will only last a few minutes. You can experience the pain all around the knees. Sometimes the pain will be concentrated in the back and front of your knees. Also, your knee might also look swollen sometimes, mainly due to two main reasons. If it’s hard swelling, then the bone at the end of your knee joint has already grown outwards, forming bony spurs. On the other hand, if you experience soft swelling, then it’s a sign that your joint has become inflamed. As a result, it has produced some extra fluid, commonly known as water to the knee or effusion. Osteoarthritis can sometimes weaken your thigh muscles, making the affected leg to appear thinner.
It’s important to note that there is no cure for osteoarthritis. And that’s why it’s important to undertake the necessary measures to prevent the condition from spreading. But first, you need to visit a physician, who will conduct some tests to determine whether you have osteoarthritis or not. If the tests are positive for osteoarthritis, the physician will recommend some approaches that will help to manage the problem. Some of the available treatments that can help to alleviate the pain include:
- Reducing strain and pressure on the knees
- Weight management
- Warming up properly before jogging
- Wearing comfortable and supportive running shoes, which are joint-friendly
- Using supportive braces and casts
- Controlling blood sugar levels
If you’ve used conservative approaches and the pain is becoming increasingly severe, then you might consider surgical procedures like cortisone injections, bone realignment, joint replacement, and lubrication injections.
The meniscus cartilage stabilizes and cushions your knee joints when you are running. Due to its important role, it’s highly prone to overuse injuries. Meniscus tears are quite common in contact sports such as football, basketball, soccer and tennis. They can also occur when you take a sudden turn or pivot when you are running. Just like other knee injuries, meniscus tears can lead to debilitating pain, making it hard to stand or walk. Common symptoms of meniscus tears include pain in the knee, difficulty straightening or bending your knee, stiffness, and swelling, as well as locking of the knee. You might also find it impossible to move your knee in its full range of motion if you have torn meniscus. If you have experienced any of the above symptoms after the end of your jogging session and the pain doesn’t seem to go away after a day, you should call your physician right away.
Your doctor will perform a series of diagnostic tests such as physical examination to determine whether you have meniscus tears. If the results of the physical examination are inconclusive, your physician may conduct imaging tests such as MRI scans, X-rays, arthroscopy, or ultrasound. The treatment method applied, will depend on the location, size and type of tear that you have. Most tears will heal on their own. However, you can speed up their recovery and alleviate pain using the RICE protocol, which stands for rest, icing, compression and elevation. Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin can also help to reduce inflammation and pain. With a proper diagnosis, the right treatment, and ample recovery, you can resume your jogging after a few weeks or so, depending on the extent of the tear.
Knee Ligament Injuries
Torn knee ligaments are serious injuries that can prevent you from living a normal lifestyle. The 2 most common and serious knee ligament injuries are the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. Apart from PCL and ACL injuries, you can also suffer from torn medial and lateral collateral ligament injuries. Symptoms will depend on the torn or injured ligament. However, most people with knee ligament injuries tend to experience common symptoms like sudden, severe pain, a loud snap or pop during the injury, swollen knee within 24 hours of the injury and inability to exert weight on the injured joint without feeling pain.
Torn or injured ligaments require urgent medical attention. Therefore, you should visit your doctor right away, if you have experienced any or a combination of the above-mentioned symptoms. Your physician will examine your knee and then recommend a treatment approach, based on the seriousness of the injury and pain. In most cases, rest, icing, compression and elevation should be enough to alleviate the pain and heal the torn ligament completely. And if your ligaments are severely torn or damaged, the physician may recommend any of the following treatment options:
- Physical therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises can help to repair the torn ligaments.
- Bracing: Your physician might also require you to wear a knee brace, to help stabilize and support the knee, while preventing sideways movements.
- Surgery: If the damaged ligaments can not be treated using non-invasive approaches, then you will have to undergo surgery.
Wearing the right pair of shoes when running or jogging can help to prevent or minimize ligament injuries. Also, the proper running technique combined with core strengthening exercises will reduce the risk of torn ligaments. If you’ve just started jogging, don’t increase your running intensity suddenly. Instead, you should do it gradually, to allow your knee muscles, ligaments and tendons to adjust. Regardless of the type or seriousness of your torn ligaments, receiving a professional knee examination is always the first step towards healing and recovery.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Also known as ITBS, ITB syndrome or IT band syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome is a common overuse injury in the running community. It’s usually characterized by pain on the outside of the knee. Due to its location, most people with this syndrome tend to confuse it with a lateral meniscus tear. As much as both conditions tend to present with a painful knee, an injured knee will be accompanied by swelling. ITB syndrome, on the other hand, doesn’t present with swelling. Therefore, if you are constantly experiencing knee pain after jogging or running and there is no swelling, there is a high chance that you have ITBS. Also, you might experience a clicking sensation or sound when you have a lateral meniscus – which is not the case with the IT band syndrome.
Causes include running downhill, running with worn-out shoes, increasing your running intensity suddenly or running on banked surfaces. Iliotibial band syndrome affects both seasoned and amateur runners. However, it tends to be more prevalent in women than men, according to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Once you’ve experienced some pain on the outside part of your knee, you should discontinue jogging or running for some days and allow your legs to rest. If you continue running through knee pain, ITBS might become chronic, leading to bigger issues in the future. As you rest, you can keep your body active by cycling, swimming, rowing or pool running, among others.
If you are experiencing any form of knee pain after jogging, you should take it easy and give your knees ample time for healing and recovery. During the healing process, avoid any activity that might strain your knees. Instead of jogging, you can opt for other activities such as swimming. And once your knee has healed completely you can now resume light jogging, and then increase the intensity gradually. But always make sure you are wearing the right pair of running shoes.