It's your worst fear - you begin to feel pain around your knee when you run.
Now the thoughts start racing through your mind - have I injured myself? Do I have runner's knee? But, I just started to get momentum for getting fit! Does this mean the end of my running days?
The good news is, in this article we are here to tell you how to diagnose your knee pain and more importantly how to maintain your fitness with running.
So without further delay, let's get you back onto the running track - pain free!
Knowing when to Stop Running with Runner's Knee
If you feel any type of knee pain, our best advice for you is to STOP whatever activity you are doing. At the best knee braces, we have found taking a cautious approach is always the best course of action.
Your next step is to mentally take note of the pain. Answer the following questions:
ask yourself where exactly is your pain? Is it around the patella? is it hurting behind the knee? On the side of the knee - if so, which side?
Next analyze the type of pain. Do you feel a dull throbbing pain? Or is it at the other end of the spectrum with a sharp needle like pain?
The last question you need to determine is what action, movement or activity caused the pain? Did the pain occur directly after you made a sudden change in direction? Was your stride unexpectedly interrupted (such as stepping off a side walk)? Were you taken by surprise during your run? Did you have to stop suddenly?
You may be thinking what does all this have to do with running with runner's knee? By taking a step back and identifying the possible cause of the pain, you will be able to accurately diagnose the injury. Which is exactly what we look at in the next section.
How to Diagnose Your Knee Pain
Pain is the bodies way of communicating with you that something isn't right. Trying to determine what that pain is telling you isn't always that simple.
Many runners immediately think any pain felt in the knee means they have runner's knee. If you think you have runner's knee, we encourage you to check out our in-depth series of articles on What is Runner's knee.
In a nut shell, runners knee generally feels like dull pain or stiffness around the knee. It can also extend to the sensation of muscle weakness directly below the knee.
If, however, you are experiencing a sharp pain behind or on the side of the knee, you could potentially have injured other parts of your knee. For example, sharp pain is associated with a torn knee ligament. This can happen due to sudden unexpected turns in your run. You will also hear a popping noise when the ligament tears.
In either case, we would recommend seeking the advice of a medical professional for a full analysis of your knee. This may include x-rays or scans of the knee joint.
How to Get Ahead of your Knee Pain
Knee pain doesn't mean the end of your running days. There are many fit individuals still running with runner's knee. You just need to know how to be proactive and take some preventative measures to ensure you knee receives the best chance of remaining healthy. Here are a few of our best tips for maintaining knee health:
use a knee brace or knee sleeve. Running places an inordinate amount of stress on the knees - especially when you run on hard surfaces like concrete. Using a support aid like a knee brace or sleeve will give your knee the help it needs to withstand the pressure placed on the joint while you run. They are a budget friendly option that has many benefits that easily outweigh the cons of wearing them while running. Check out our favorite knee braces and knee sleeves for running on our product round ups.
Perform warm up and warm down sessions. We get it, sometimes you just want to hit the track running and get your miles under your belt as soon as possible. Especially if you are short on time. However, ensuring your knee joint is warm and pliable, means less chances of an injury occurring and greater flexibility in your knee.
Take rest days in between running sessions. If we could, we would run everyday. There is something about running that makes you feel like you've accomplished your fitness goals for the day. However, studies have shown rest days are just as important. Allowing your body to rest, gives it the opportunity to regenerate any damaged cells during your training sessions. It also helps to reduce the likelihood of any injuries resulting for over use (like runner's knee).
Use proper running shoes. You may be asking how will shoes help running with runner's knee. Any stress or pressure that you feet endure travels to the knee. Especially when you add your entire body weight while you run. Therefore, if you do not have the correct supportive runner's to help support your feet, your knee will also be wear the strain. Using the appropriate running shoe is just as important as using a supportive knee brace.
Final Thoughts of Running with Runner's Knee
It is easy to fall into the trap that knee pain means the end of your running days. However, with a bit of careful analysis and a proactive approach to preserving your knee health, you can maintain your running days well into your golden years.
In this article we have laid out a step-by-step plan for you to identify your knee pain - and your next steps to treating the pain.
We have also laid out some preventative measure you can take to ensure that running with runner's knee can continue. By using support devices such as knee braces, and consistently performing warm up and down sessions, you can ensure your knee remains in top health.
Let us know how you have overcome knee pain while running and share your experiences with the best knee brace community.