Welcome to the #RunPainFree podcast. Today, Coach Jessica Marie Rose Leggio chats with Little Billy about one of the most common problems runners face – knee pain after running. If you’ve just rolled in from a run, get yourself a glass of water, your foam roller, and listen up. Coach Jessica is going to tell you straight.
Hey Coach, I have knee pain after running.
Oh, Little Billy, so much to learn.
The first thing you need to realize is that knee pain is not an injury. Your knees are fine. The pain has nothing to do with your knees.
Sidebar: In 2011, Coach Jessica Marie Rose Leggio published an E-book on this very topic: Correcting Knee Pain: Find the root of your knee pain!
Well, they are fine when I put on a knee brace.
Please, step away from the knee braces!
So many runners use knee braces, running compression sleeves and get shots in their knees. Or they take Advil pre and post-run to mask the pain. To add insult to injury, despite all my PSA’s, most runners are still lacing up their stability sneakers every time they go running. None of this stuff works.
Sidebar: Yes, we have an entire episode on how to Protect Yourself From the Stability Shoe Scam
When you’re getting knee pain after running, embrace it in terms of feedback. Don’t smother your knee with a brace; locking up joints is never a good move. Remember, the pain you are experiencing in your knee is from somewhere else.
You should not be persevering through the pain with quick fixes like a knee brace. You need to address the root cause, so it stops.
So what’s the root cause? Let me guess, my hips?
Yes, damn straight, it’s your hips that are in dysfunction! The reason why is complex, so here is some quick advice…
Foam roll! Foam roll! Foam roll!
Foam rolling will alleviate your knee pain after running almost instantly. If foam rolling doesn’t make the pain go, you are likely not foam rolling correctly.
Sidebar: #RunPainFreenow.com offers free consultations with Jessica on how to foam roll. She will give a one-on-one session and teach you the fundamentals of how to foam roll properly.
If you foam roll and the pain comes back, that is the feedback that something more serious is going on. Consider it your wake-up call; you’ve got to go to it like a bull to a red flag!
Ok, but why do my hip problems show up in my knees?
Hey kiddo, you’re all right – you’re learning, asking the right questions, maybe one day you will run pain-free. I digress…
Your knees are the fastest, easiest way for your body to express to you there’s a problem further up the chain. Likewise, shin splints are also one of the first signs of a problem at your hips.
So, why do I only have knee pain after running?
Really, come on, Little Billy, you know this one. No, the answer isn’t on the ceiling.
Most runners won’t experience knee pain mid-run because running generates blood flow. When you stop, your blood flow goes back to homeostasis or a balanced state. So that’s why you start to feel knee pain after running. And that’s why foam rolling should be a part of your life.
– Because it generates blood flow.
– You want me to foam roll?
– I told you at the top of this piece to grab your foam roller!
If you’re not foam rolling as a runner, you really should stop running. Just hang up your shoes and do a basic workout. Running is not a workout; running is a sport that you need to train for. No, that doesn’t mean just doing recovery runs between your tempo runs and long runs; we are talking about conditioning exercises.
Sidebar: Curious about how to look after your hips? Check out our episode: Secrets of a Healthy Hip
Am I dysfunctional?
Look, little Billy, you’ll be ok. But yes, you are. Hey, don’t take it so bad!
Almost everyone has some form of dysfunction in their body. In modern life, sitting in office chairs during the day and on couches in the evening doesn’t do anybody favors.
You don’t feel these problems until you start using your entire body and nothing uses your whole body like running. Long-distance running requires your body to work as a unit for hours at a time. When something isn’t working, it’s going to show up.
But if you get on to your knee pain early, you can prevent incurring a significant injury. Consider your knee pain like a status update from your body. It’s saying, ‘hey little Billy, can you just fix me really quick because I like this whole running thing.’
If you’ve had knee pain from the day you started running, then you’ve had this problem even before you started running.
But why can’t I wear my knee braces?
Didn’t we go through this already?
Ok. Wherever you put a brace on your body, your subsequent injury will be at the next joint up. For example, if you put on an ankle brace, you’ll get a knee injury. If you put on a knee brace, you will get a hip injury.
With a bandage or a brace on your knee, you lock up the knee. Now the ankle and the hip have to work even more because there’s a knee joint restriction. Yet, your ankle and your hips were the problems, to begin with! You might be thinking, how do I know about your ankle niggle. Well, that’s because your hips and ankles are synonymous in terms of movement.
If your hips and ankles are not moving correctly, your knee is also going to flare up because it is in the leg’s midline, which is the most vulnerable spot of the leg.
When you lock up your joints with these bands, bandages, stability shoes or braces, or whatever else, you are gagging your body’s inbuilt feedback mechanism. It’s like duct taping your body to drown out its screams while you torture it running.
See your knee pain as a red flag and work out what you need to do to address the dysfunction in your hips.
But all the runners I know have some knee pain after running?
Sorry, Billy, that is not normal.
You can push yourself and challenge yourself, but that is not pain. Fatigue pain caused by running and injury pain are worlds apart – so don’t confuse the two. This idea is why many people get injured because they don’t separate the two.
So how do I figure out what’s going on?
Take notes of how you’re feeling after every run. To be specific, if you felt a minor niggle somewhere, write it down. If you feel fine or sluggish, write it down. Add details like the type of course, distance, and time. Over time, you’ll be able to go back and look at your calendar, and you’ll be able to start mapping your own body and figuring out why that pain is happening.
Bottom line: If you listen to your body and figure out the root cause of your aches and pains, you will prevent an injury. And isn’t that the best type of correction? Injury prevention.
Knee pain after running is the first red flag you’ll ever get with running. Your first point of action should be to start foam rolling pre and post-run. If you’re foam rolling and not feeling better afterward, contact us for an online consultation. They’re complimentary. We can figure out exactly what’s going on with your body, and we will teach you how to foam roll properly. If foam rolling doesn’t solve your knee pain, it is a sign that you have a bigger problem at your hips.
01:18 – Intro
02:27 – Why you should avoid knee braces
5:08 – So what’s the root cause? Let me guess, my hips?
08:40 – So, Why do I only have knee pain after running?
10:50 – Am I dysfunctional?
17:41 – But all the runners I know have some pain from running?
20:15 – How do I figure out what’s going on?
21:50 – Takeaway lesson
KEY LEARNING POINTS
– The root cause of your knee pain is hip dysfunction
– Start foam rolling pre and post-run to generate blood flow
– Avoid braces, bandages, and stability shoes
– Start introducing conditioning exercises for your hips
Get an Assessment With Jessica: https://www.runpainfreenow.com
Resources & Programs To Run Injury-Free: https://www.runpainfreeacademy.com
How Sport Braces, Cortisone Shots, and KT-Tape Hurt Runners and
Secrets of a Healthy Hip: https://www.runpainfreepodcast.com/blog/secrets-of-a-healthy-hip
Thanks so much for tuning in this week. I hope this helps you unravel the mystery of where your knee pain is coming from.
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Keep running and keep learning!