The knees have complicated joint structures. Each knee joint consists of four bones, cartilages, tendons and ligaments. The knees bear the entire body weight when we are standing, walking or running. While running, the joints undergo twisting, straightening, bending, etc. Such motions of the joints make them susceptible to either acute injury or overuse injury. Thus we can say that the knees hurt after running when the underlying structure sustain some kind of injury.
Why do Knees Hurt After Running?
One of the main cause behind knee pain after running is a condition known as runner's knee. This results from muscular imbalance in the legs and feet. During running, the knee cap should move up and down to maintain the balance of our strides. If there is an imbalance in the muscles of the legs and feet, then the knee cap moves sideways and then its back will get rubbed against the femur or thigh bone. As a result, the cartilage surrounding the knee cap becomes irritated and gives rise to pain after running. It could be accompanied by swelling and inflammation of the area.
Inflammation of the tendon that connects the knee cap with the lower part of the leg may occur due to overuse because of running long distances. This kind of injury will give rise to pain and stiffness in the area that lies just below the knee cap. Sometimes, it may lead to tendonitis. The cartilage present in the knees act as shock absorbers which may get torn by twisting of the knee while running.
Usually, this kind of painful condition can be treated with the help of conservative methods of treatment. All such activities that puts an additional amount of pressure on the knees have to be suspended temporarily. Application of ice can have a soothing effect. Keep a wet towel inside the freezer for an hour or so. Wrap it around the knees for 15 minutes. At night before retiring for the day, application of heating pads can reduce the pain to some extent. If the pain is too much, then anti-inflammatory medicines can be taken after consulting a doctor. Make sure you do not pop any of those tablets on an empty stomach.
Once the pain subsides, doctors or physical therapists suggest some exercises that can strengthen the knee joint. These exercises also help to restore the balance of various muscles around the knee area. One should also provide proper stability to the feet by wearing the right kind of running shoes. In certain cases of runner's knee, podiatrist recommend use of orthotics that can improve the running mechanics and reduce the chances of any injury to the joint. It is only in some rare cases that the doctors opt for surgery in order to get relief from the pain. This is mostly needed in cases of badly torn ligament or some specific type of bone fractures.
When your knees hurt after running, it is important to go slow. Never resume any high impact activities unless and until your doctor asks you to do so. Before you start running and jogging, stretch the muscles surrounding the knees to prevent any further injury. Those who are overweight must make efforts to reduce their weight to ease off the constant stress on the joints.