Minimizing Knee Pain From Running

In the past few years, running, especially distance running has become a very popular recreational activity. More people are signing up for and participating in major marathons every year.

Unfortunately I see a lot of patients who have decided to take up running as their main source of physical activity, or who are now training for an upcoming marathon.  The most common complaint, in runners new to the sport, is knee pain. Here are a few simple and important steps to consider when you begin running so you can minimize knee pain.

How to Minimize Knee Pain From Running

Start at the appropriate level to reduce knee pain from running

  • Start at the appropriate level. No one can “get off the couch” and run a marathon. If you are a new runner or are training for a long distance run for the first time. Make sure you are using an appropriate training schedule. These schedule are offered by local running clubs and a readily available online. The main focus of a running schedule a gradual build-up to longer and longer distances. If you are going to run a marathon, running 20 miles on your first training run is not ideal. Your muscles, especially your quadriceps, and hamstrings, need to be conditioned to run these distances. Furthermore the stronger these muscles are the less impact your knees have, and less incidence of pain.

Stretch to reduce knee pain from running

  • Flexibility, Flexibility, Flexibility- The older you are the less flexible you become. It is extremely important to stretch before and after running to prevent injury. You should be able to keep your knees strait and touch your toes before you start training for a marathon. If you are not at optimal flexibility you are putting yourself at risk for injury.

Purchase the correct shoe wear to reduce knee pain from running

  • When you begin running you should make sure you have the correct running shoes. Not all feet are the same, and for that matter, not all shoes are. I recommend purchasing your first pair of running shoes, at a store that has specialist that can evaluate your feet and place you in the correct shoe. You will hear terms like “High pronation,” and “Hindfoot valgus” If you are someone with high arches, you will require a different shoe then someone with flatter feet. If your feet are in the wrong position in your shoes your knee will be subject to undue forces, and this will quickly translate into pain

Don’t run if you are in pain

  • Do not run if you are in pain. If you are a beginner runner, and you have started running long distances, and your knee are beginning to bother you, do not run “through the pain.” If your knees hurt when you run it is your body telling you that something is wrong. Continuing to run if you are pain can cause damage to your knees, and also make for a longer recovery if you in fact have an injury.




If you are having knee pain due to running, make an appointment to see one of our orthopedic doctors with a sports medicine specialty.


Dr. Michael Gott is a Westchester orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in sports medicine. He has also been an active member of the National Ski Patrol as well as a Member of the Windham Mountain Ski Patrol for 18 years.