How to Treat Sore Knees From Running

Woman with knee brace
How to Treat Sore Knees From Running (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Running provides a great aerobic workout that boosts energy and metabolism. Unfortunately, it can leave your knees feeling sore. Runners suffer two common painful knee conditions. One is called patellofemoral pain syndrome. This occurs when the patella, or knee cap, isn't tracking properly along the groove in your femur, the bone in your thigh. The other common knee condition is called iliotibial band syndrome. The iliotibial band starts at your hip and runs across your knee -- when this becomes irritated from too much flexing, a painful knee condition results. Luckily, you can treat and possibly cure both sore knee conditions.

When Knees are Sore

Step 1

Front view of a concerned woman wearing a knee support holding her knee
Rest your knee. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Rest your knee. Elevate it on pillows to help relieve swelling.

Step 2

Man Suffering Pain Knee
Ice your knee for 20 minutes at a time to help relieve swelling. (Image: Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images)

Ice your knee for 20 minutes at a time to help relieve swelling. Use cold packs and place them in a towel or cloth to keep them from hurting your skin.

Step 3

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Take anti-inflammatory drugs. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs to help relieve swelling.

Step 4

Young woman sitting on grass in sport clothes, cityscape in background
Continue this course of rest. (Image: John Howard/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Continue this course of rest and icing until your pain and swelling subside.

Step 5

Mature woman using mobile phone, profile, close-up
Call your doctor. (Image: Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Call your doctor to set up an appointment to find out what's causing your knees to be sore.

Initial Treatment

Step 1

Doctor Discussing Medicine in His Clinic With a Patient
Visit your doctor. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Visit your doctor. Consider seeing an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knees.

Step 2

Undergo image tests. Your specialist will likely have you get x-rays and an MRI.

Step 3

Doctor checking chart
Ask your doctor for a diagnosis and a course of action. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Ask your doctor for a diagnosis and a course of action. Make sure you are clear on the steps that will follow to cure your sore knees.

Therapy for Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Step 1

Physical therapist helping patient with crutches
Begin exercising with a physical therapist. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Begin exercising with a physical therapist once the pain and swelling in your knees go down.

Step 2

Stretch your iliotibial band with the supervision of the therapist.

Step 3

Strengthen the muscle that supports your iliotibial band, the gluteus medias. Do this only under the therapist's supervision to ensure you don't further damage your sore knee.

Step 4

Man bending forward in physical therapy centre, woman supervising, surface view
Continue physical therapy for three to six weeks. (Image: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Continue physical therapy for three to six weeks. Go back to your running routine if your knee is strong enough.

Step 5

Close-up of medical operation
Consider surgery. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Consider surgery to snip the iliotibial band where it crosses the knee if your rehabilitation therapy is ineffective.

Therapy for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Step 1

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Start sessions with physical therapist when the pain and swelling in your knee subside. (Image: Photos.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Start sessions with physical therapist when the pain and swelling in your knee subside.

Step 2

Strengthen the muscles that support the knee cap called the quadriceps. These stabilize the knee cap and keep it from slipping. Exercise the quads only with a physical therapist's supervision to keep from further damaging your knee.

Step 3

Stretch the quadriceps with the help of the physical therapist. Keep the muscles long and flexible to keep them strong.

Step 4

Muscular man running on beach
Return to your running routine when your knee is strong enough. (Image: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Continue therapy for three to six weeks. Return to your running routine when your knee is strong enough.

Step 5

Surgery
Consider surgery. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Consider surgery to smooth the undersurface of the knee cap if your physical therapy is unsuccessful.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice packs

  • Pillows

Tip

Many people with "runner's knee" wait until the pain has progressed so much that they have to stop running completely until being treated. If you are just starting to suffer the onset of knee problems, deal with it right from the get-go.

Warning

Do not resume running unless given the go-ahead by your doctor.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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