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Knee Pain While Running

Knee Pain While Running

When it comes to pounding the pavement, runners take the phrase and, well, run with it.

As athletes run countless miles to prepare for a marathon, their legs and knees take a real pounding, sometimes causing painful injuries.

Lower-limb Damage Common

The most common problems are patellofemoral knee and iliotibial band injuries. Both are a result of overuse. All the training to prepare for a marathon adds up and can result in damage to the knees and legs.

A patellofemoral knee injury occurs in front of the patella, or kneecap. This painful problem is more common in women because of how the female body is aligned – wider hips create a different pull on the knee.

Damage to the knee where the iliotibial band (a muscle on the outside of the thigh) creates friction by rubbing against the thighbone is another common cause of injury.

Older runners may suffer from osteoarthritis, which is a degeneration of the cartilage between the joints, or chondromalacia patella – the softening of the kneecap cartilage often characterized by grinding and popping under the kneecap. Both can be painful.

Prevent and Treat Injuries

A few months of constant running can increase the chance of incurring an injury, and symptoms often creep up on unsuspecting runners.

Seeing an athletic trainer before you begin a running regimen may help to reduce the chances of suffering an injury. The IRONAMN Sports Medicine Institute can offer advice on stretching and strengthening exercises that can help your legs feel better and stronger.

Ultrasound imaging often is used to determine the severity of an injury.

Some common treatments for knee and leg injuries include:

  • Ice packs to control swelling and pain
  • Exercise to build strength
  • McConnell taping technique to focus on the alignment of the patella, thereby reducing pain during exercise; this approach can allow runners to exercise relatively pain free

Athletic trainers can teach the patient to do this type of wrapping on their own. Most people find it very comfortable, comparing it to wearing a big Band-Aid on their knee. It can be worn all day or only during periods of exercise, depending on the degree of injury.

Although frigid weather isn't always an issue in Houston, some runners prefer to wear knee sleeves during colder months to keep the knees warm and avoid stiffness.