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running knee pain

We all walk, squat, kneel, run, sit down, stand up, walk up and down stairs, even downhill.  Do your knees hurt while performing these day to day activities? Do you have running knee pain? You don’t need to be a runner to have it, it’s used as a broad term to say that you have pain in or around your knee(s). There are a lot of different factors that can contribute to your pain. I’ll break down a few for you.

The major factor that can cause you pain is overusing your knees! I know it seems silly, you’re thinking, “Yeah, I use my knees, I walk and sit down a lot.” That’s not what I’m talking about, I’m saying you bending your knee over and over again, like doing lunges. Another obvious reason behind your pain is you’ve recently suffered an injury. Maybe you tripped and fell onto your knee or someone kicked a soccer ball that hit your knee.  A direct hit to your knee could be the source of your pain. In a more serious manner, it could be a biological issue. Your bones may not be aligned and that could lead to pain. Do you feel your joints move around more than they should or do you have flat feet? These could all be factors in your running knee pain. Another anatomical problem could be the muscular composition of your thighs. If the more obvious reasons are not the cause of your pain then the best way to determine the root cause of your pain is to see a physical therapist!

The majority of people who get running knee pain are athletes. So, what happens when you have an injury and can’t participate in your sport or workout for a while? As an athlete, your sport is a major part of your identity. Your sport has given you a purpose and drove you to be better than you were yesterday.  It has given you a source of self-esteem. When you come out as number one on your team or nationals, you are a success. Your coach, family, and strangers compliment you on your technique and it makes you feel good. The sport also gave you an outlet for unwanted stress. These can all apply to you even if you aren’t an athlete. Your workouts can give you a release to stressors from work or other life issues happening right now. When people compliment your looks after you’ve started your workout regimen, it makes you feel good. It boosts your self-esteem and gives you confidence. What happens to all of these positive things when you have an injury and can’t work out or play your sport anymore?

Here I have 11 reasons on ways to help you cope with running knee pain and a few tips to overcome running knee pain. As an athlete, you’ve spent numerous years training for your future and sometimes accidents happen that lead you down another path for a little while. It’s a drastic change that you have to endure and it may cause you some turmoil. If you aren’t an athlete but an avid exerciser you may also feel these tumultuous times. No matter the situation, here are 11 tips to get you through running knee pain.

11 Tips to Get You Through Running Knee Pain

1. Be Sad

  • I know, this sounds odd. Everywhere you read will tell you to be positive and get through it. However, being upset and/or frustrated with the situation is a healthy response. Suppressing these feelings isn’t healthy and may impair recovery. Be sad, let it out then…

2. Deal with it!

  • After you’ve let yourself be sad for a while, you need to face the future. You need to realize that your injury has happened and you’re in recovery. It’s not the end of the journey for you, you just need to keep moving forward.

3. Reassess Goals and/or Modify Them

  • Who said goals have to be permanent? Goals can be altered and changed to fit the situation. Sometimes reassessing and setting goals back is necessary, while other times advancing goals is. After your injury has fully recovered, you can’t jump back into your old routine. You need to ease yourself back into it in order to not sustain another injury.

4. Be Positive (Positive, Positive, Positive)

    • Everyone has their good and their bad days, but keeping the positive vibes will make recovery easier. It’s alright to complain once in a while, but you don’t want to be a Debby downer on yourself all the time. Your attitude might change others. Positive attitude reaps positivity outwards. You’re not an isolated organism. Your family, friends, and teammates will be dragged down with your negative vibes. Be positive 🙂

Positive, positive, positive! Up!

5. Take an Active Role in Your Running Knee Pain Recovery

  • You can’t expect to make a full recovery if you’re skipping your physical therapy sessions. If you aren’t following the treatment plan that has been set out for you then you can’t be bummed you’re not recovering. You have to be in charge of your own health and that means following your treatment regimen.

6. Practice and Workout

  • If you’re in a sport that has a routine then it might be a good idea to go to practice still. You can watch from the sidelines, but still get a feel for what is expected of you when you make your return. If you’re a synchronized swimmer, you can still learn the routine or if you play baseball you can know the plays.

7. Mental Rehearsal

  • It may sound silly, but watching an activity creates neural connections to learn the skill [got to love mirror neurons]. Watching can help with doing 🙂 Obviously, watching LeBron James won’t give you magical powers to slam dunk. However, watching someone can help you learn the skill, especially if you have a history of doing that activity. We suggest visualization and incantations with our athletes, but these skills are helpful for everyone.

8. Seek Out Support

  • Know that you aren’t alone in your injuries. Friends, families, teammates and even pets suffer from knee injuries (did you know dog ACL injuries are on the rise…). I’m sure people on your team have suffered from similar injuries or has had one before. Ask for help when you need it or if you need someone who understands what it feels like to be out of the game.

9. Make it a Learning Experience and Apply it to Something Else

  • Think about the things you’ve learned from going to your workouts every day for the last few years. It has taught you discipline and that can be used elsewhere. Your schoolwork requires discipline to sit down and to not get distracted by the television, your phone, and memes online.  When you exercise regularly, even on days you don’t want to go says a lot about your work ethic. Even as an adult, we always have room for improvement.

10. Seek Counseling

  • It’s okay to seek help professionally. Whether you’re an athlete or simply having a tough time with staying positive, a counselor or therapist can help you get over the mental hurdle of an injury. Stressful situations require a team. Don’t be shy, stock your team and recover.

10. Be Patient

  • Recovery takes time. Simple as that, remember patience is a virtue.

11. Work on Your Weaknesses

  • Injury periods are great opportunities for improvements in weak avenues of your sport, activity, or life in general. Maybe you’re trying to lose weight but have running knee pain. Start cooking with your extra time and make nutritious snacks for you and your loved ones. If you are an athlete with running knee pain, work on your core or upper body strength and come back even stronger.


Our daily activities create a lot of wear and tear on our knees. What makes it worse is a continuous leg exercise and over usage of our knees. If you’re an athlete or an avid exerciser then you will be out of the game for a little while to let your body recover. You just read our 11 tips to help you through the recovery process, but if you’re still living in pain, why?  It’s time to take the driver’s seat on your road to recovery.

Living in constant knee pain? Find out if physical therapy is right for you!

Want to Solve Your Running Knee Pain? Schedule an Executive Success Session today: