Understanding knee pain when running

Do you have knee pain around and-or behind the knee cap while running?
This can be especially troubling the older we get, and unfortunately once some people reach their 40s or older they just assume they’re too old to run anymore.
Actually, oftentimes some simple exercises can help you correct the situation and resume running. I’ll address that in Tuesday’s blog.
But first here’s a quick lesson in the knee and why people often wind up experiencing pain while running, or even just walking.
KNEE STRUCTURE – Four bones basically make up the knee:
* The femur, which is the large bone in your thigh and the largest in the body. It attaches by ligaments and a capsule to your tibia;
* Below and next to the tibia is the fibula, a bone that runs parallel to the tibia. The patella, or what we call the knee cap, rides on the knee joint as the knee bends.
* As the knee moves it does more than simply bend and straighten, or, as some sports medicine practitioners might put it, “flex and extend.” A slight rotational component is also part of the knee‘s movement.
* Essential to controlling this rotational component are the quadriceps and hamstring muscles.
The quadriceps are on the front of the knee, while the hamstrings are on the back of the knee. Equally important to the knee’s stability are ligaments, which we often hear about being strained or torn in athletes.
HOW IT ALL COMES TOGETHER – If a ligament is strained or injured, or the quadriceps or hamstrings are imbalanced injured, it can cause the knee to go off track. Pain and-or further injury can occur from even a slight imbalance.
If the injury is acute (ie: very sharp and painful) obviously a person should stop working out or playing their sport and consult a trainer or doctor.
However, the when the pain is simply numb or nagging we’re often not sure what to do.
Sometimes when an injury or imbalance lingers it can throw the knee off over time and pain or clicking can develop.
Also, when a person tries to increase the demands on the knee, such as playing basketball after a layoff or adding mileage as a runner, pain can develop.
One of the most common problems for the knee is known as “runners’ knee.”
Due to a muscular imbalance in the legs and-or feet, it throws off the smooth pattern in which the knee cap usually moves up and down.
When the muscles are imbalanced the knees can go off track and cause the cartilage to grind away at the knee cap.
In Tuesday’s blog I’ll talk about ways to get your knees, and eventually yourself, back on track to doing the physical exercises you want to.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@athomefitness.com