Why Knee Pain Gets Worse When You Exercise and How to Ease it

Knee Pain

Knee Pain

I got this question sent to me yesterday by a concerned reader of my knee report…

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“Hey Nick, I’ve been suffering with a pain in my right knee now for a few weeks. What I can’t put my finger on is what started it in the first place, what’s even more confusing is that it’s most painful when walking down the stairs in my house, and only comes on 10 minutes into a run.

Sometimes it aches. Sometimes it feels tender and dull. But, I just don’t understand why I was able to run fine before and now I can’t without having to stop after 10 minutes.

Can you help?

-Michelle, 45, Peoria

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There’s a good chance the same thing is happening to Michelle as it does to most people around this time of year…

And it’s no surprise seeing as we’re now heading towards fall and the weather is beginning to cool down that we’re seeing more people than ever in my clinic. Because it’s around this time of year that people decide to be more active outside and take things up like running around their neighborhood or walking for longer distances.

And even if they’re used to running, people tend to step it up and run a little longer outside than usual now that the temperature is beginning to dip below 100 degrees.

What’s likely going on with Michelle is something called ‘runner’s knee’. This got its nickname for an obvious (and ever unfortunate) reason because it’s common among runners and even those who are brand new to running.

If we run often enough, after a while the stress of running can cause irritation around the knee area. The pain that results can be sharp and sudden, or irritating and dull. Sometimes, it even disappears when you’re running, only to return again afterwards.

The pain will generally feel worse when bending the knee, like walking or running downhill. Even something as simple as walking down a flight of stairs!

So Why is Michelle Feeling This Pain in Her Knees?

Think of it like this…

Each time you run, your knee bends, causing the knee cap to rub against the thigh bone. Just like if you were to rub your hand against your arm, eventually your arm would turn red and become sore. Well, the same thing happens with your knees!  Especially when we have muscle tightness, hip weakness and poor running mechanics.

If you aren’t used to running or if you haven’t slowly built up how long you run for, then this is going to be a shock to your knees.

Also, if the muscles around your knees are weak and tight, they aren’t going to be able to support you through a run.

And without strong muscles to support your knee joints (or just really tired and weak ones), you are much more likely to suffer from aches and pains.

So the Solution to Michelle’s Problem?

It’s likely to be a simple case of strengthening the knee muscles (and hip and low back ones as well). This will make them stronger in order to support Michelle when she runs- not MORE running or more elliptical.

See, a lot of people think that more exercise is good for them, and it is to an extent. But this is only helpful if you’re doing the right type of exercises to benefit everything else that you’re doing.

Doing the right type of exercises and stretches to strengthen the correct muscles means that your knees will be strong enough to walk and run for longer, with less pain at the end of the day.

You have to build a strong foundation first before doing more, in order to prevent any aches and pains that suddenly creep up on you, putting you out for a few weeks.

Want more tips and advice about knee pain? Click the link below to pick up a copy of my free knee pain report:

Click Here To Download Your Free Knee Pain Guide
Nick Hunter, PT, DPT
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