Do you run but end up with knee pain afterward?
If that sounds like you, you know that having pain on the horizon can take the joy out of running, especially if running is how you unwind and clear your head.
Instead of clearing your head, you replace the day's worries with worries of the pain to come.
It’s a lose-lose situation, and that’s not what we want for you, so here are 3 of the most common reasons people have knee pain after running
Tendon problems are by far the most common knee issue we run into because tendon injuries take a long time to heal relative to other injuries.
So, people think the injury is healed, and they get back into running only to be derailed again and again.
In the specific case of pain AFTER running rather than during the protocol is fairly simple; it creates an opportunity for the tendon to heal.
Here is it👇
First, avoid bouncy movements (running, jumping, etc.).
Second, apply this protocol with a movement that loads your patellar tendon (back/front squats, split squats, leg press, etc.)
Week 1: 3x15
Weeks 2-3: 3x12
Weeks 4-5: 4x10
Weeks 6-8: 4x8
Weeks 9-12 4x6
- Perform with a 3 second eccentric (down) / 3 second concentric (up) each rep.
- Your ideal RPE is 8/10; think 2-3 reps left in the tank.
- Pain trumps RPE and should not exceed 5/10. If the pain goes over 5/10, decrease the load.
- Reduce the range of motion before reducing the load.
Too much, too fast
Running is often the first place people start when they get back into fitness after they’ve laid off for a while or they’re getting into it for the very first time.
It’s cheap and accessible, so it makes sense for it to be the go-to choice.
The issue is that when we’ve been sedentary for an extended time, our connective tissues, like tendons and ligaments, get weak along with our muscles. The muscles adapt quickly and rebuild strength, but it takes far longer for the connective tissues to catch up.
The result is inflammation and pain.
It’s important to note here that muscle pain after running is normal to some extent, especially if you haven’t been physically active.
It’s called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS for short. A few days of soreness is expected.
Other pain around your joints and tendons is not.
The fix is to establish a sustainable baseline of activity before you ramp up your running volume.
Here’s an easy place to start:
For the first four weeks, find a sustainable, pain-free running volume you’re confident you can consistently handle without a problem and dial that back by 10-20%.
Most of us significantly overestimate what we can do when we first get back into physical activity, so giving yourself that 10-20% buffer is invaluable.
Remember your goal isn’t to push anything the first 4 weeks; it’s to build a new foundation.
After you’ve built that foundation, it’s time to start ramping up, and what we’ve found works best is increasing weekly running volume by about 20% per week according to tolerance. 20% is a starting number. 5-10% might be more appropriate if you haven't trained in a while. However, we don’t recommend increasing more than 30% weekly for anyone as that will overload your recovery capacity.
Last but not least is weakness. Weakness is a far more common cause of knee pain than most people realize.
They usually think one of two things:
- You don’t need more muscle to run; it will make you heavier and less efficient.
- If I’m running, I’m strong enough.
Running is a highly repetitive movement. A movement that doesn’t take any joints through the full range of motion.
The common side effect is muscles that are weak outside of very specific positions and weak surrounding muscles.
In other words, it’s a house of cards just waiting to be knocked down.
Over time, the weak musculature becomes vulnerable, and the relatively strong muscles get over-taxed.
The fix, again, is simple.
Build strength through the full range of motion.
Building strength, especially lower body strength through the full range of motion, counteracts the repetitive, limited range of motion environment created by running and helps build resilience.
Knee pain after running doesn’t have to be a mystery; there are clues about what’s causing it. These three common causes and fixes will help you get the ball rolling.
If you need more help and want a professional to get you back on track, book a call below.