Generally speaking, exercise should not be painful. Pain is an alarm system within the body telling you something is not working properly. So, should you keep running when your knee hurts? When do you go to the doctor? Will they ask you to stop running? Can you ignore it? Stop right there.
Pain is not normal. It is always important to investigate the source of pain, address it, and devise a plan to prevent it. It is never advisable to ignore your symptoms, run through them or pretend they will go away on their own. Not all injuries require a cessation of sport, though most require some modification to resolve the issue.
Now, let’s get into specifics about knee pain and running. The knee is a hinge joint that flexes and extends as we run. All lateral and rotational forces are stabilized through the hip and ankle joints. Together the limb works to both absorb and propel the body in the forward direction; it must work in synchronicity with the other limb. Most often, patients experience pain due to an increase in running volume, change in terrain, change or deterioration of footwear, or lack of experience with running. It is important to ensure you have a coach, training plan, or team you work with to avoid overuse injuries. The common guideline is not to perform more than 10% of the running volume you performed the week prior. Be mindful that this must also consider the individual’s workload/lifestyle and a broad 6-week look back of activity level.
Muscular imbalance or anatomical abnormality is the second most common cause of running injuries. Without appropriate support from the hip, ankle, and core, the knee is likely to suffer more “wear and tear” than intended and will often result in pain and injury. A physical therapist can help evaluate, assess and treat these issues and provide an individualized plan to get you back on track. And lastly, a trauma such as a fall or collision in a sport can result in knee pain. A health care provider should thoroughly evaluate this pain before safely returning to sport.
To put it simply, it is best to follow up with a physical therapist for a thorough evaluation and treatment of your condition. It is important to remember that not all pain is career-ending. It is often just a matter of modification to your current plan to return to focusing on your individual running goal.
As a runner myself, I always recommend participating in a physical therapy evaluation before an injury completely sidelines you. Save yourself time, money, and frustration by letting a physical therapist work for you. Please contact your local Athletico Physical Therapy clinic and schedule a free assessment. Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.