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What is running? Running can be defined as a form of aerobic exercise. It is an intense exercise that mostly requires strength of the lower body, particularly the thighs, the knee, the shin, the ankle, and the foot.
We know that to lead a healthy life one must at least do medium to high-intensity training for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week. It could include walking, running, swimming, and maybe going to the gym.
Running is characterized as the second most popular sport these days. The reason could be its simplicity it’s inclusive, cheap, and accessible without the need to arrange a place for you to run in or the need to set a specific time of the day.
It is one of those activities that release endorphins. Endorphins are peptide hormones that are released from the hypothalamus. They are the body’s natural pain killers. Increased amounts of endorphins in the body give one the feeling of well-being and happiness. This phenomenon in runners is known as runners high.
The majority run to lose weight, to get fit, to keep healthy, or to have some time to themselves. Others run to beat their personal best, to participate in races. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a mature athlete you are likely to engage with injuries.
Running have many goods but also comes with its own cost. Since running is mostly lower leg activity so the knee joint is the most susceptible to injury running. It is one of the most commonly injured joints in many sports like basketball, soccer, football, and gymnastics. Damage to the structures inside and outside your knee joint can result in fractures, dislocations, sprains, and tears.
The structures in the knee that are most susceptible to running injuries are:
- Articular cartilage – cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that is present in various parts of the body. The articular cartilage of the knee covers the ends of your shin bone, thigh bone, and the back of your kneecap (patella).
- Ligaments – Ligaments are structures in the human body that connect two bones together. There are four ligaments in the knee the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and the medial and lateral collateral ligament, but the most common injuries due to running are associated with your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).
- Menisci – it is rubbery cartilage discs that act as shock absorbers and help to stabilize your knee. A meniscus tear is one of the most common knee injuries.
- Tendons – connect your muscles to your bone.
10 Common Running Knee injuries
1. Runners Knee
2. Patellar Tendonitis
3. IT Band Syndrome
4. ACL and PCL injuries
5. Kneecap Bursitis
6. Kneecap Subluxation
7. Medial Meniscus Tear
8. Plica Syndrome
9. Knee Stress Fracture
When to seek treatment for your knee pain caused by running
Common Running Knee injuries are usually due to overuse of the knee joint, they are mostly mild and resolve with rest.
Other than rest using cold packs on the knee after running lowers the chances of inflammation of the inner structures of the knee and helps in the healing of whatever wear and tear the joint endured during the run.
The other way to keep the joint away from injuries is never to forget to stretch the joint before starting any exercise. Although, if your pain is not that severe but the methods mentioned above do not seem to better the pain it is better to consult a GP.
If your pain is severe or your knee is inflamed, you should immediately contact an orthopedic doctor. They will inquire about your symptoms and examine your knee physically. For more information or treatment, you may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon.
Diagnosing your knee condition
The common tests that your GP or orthopedic surgeon might request are as follows:
- An X-ray or CT scan – to check for a fracture or arthritis.
- An MRI scan – to determine cartilage or soft tissue damage.
- Knee aspiration – to drain off fluid and help in the diagnosis of knee joint disease.
- Knee arthroscopy — your doctor uses a telescope and a small camera to examine inside your knee to see whether there is any damage to the meniscus, cartilage, or ligaments. It is a less invasive procedure that can also be utilized to address your knee condition.
Treatment options for knee problems caused by running
Treatment depends on the specific knee problem and your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment. Some of the treatment options are as follows:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
- Exercise to strengthen and stretch your muscles
- Knee tape or brace
- Advice for footwear: the shoe should have midsole cushioning for stability and shock absorption, it should be lightweight the lighter the shoe the better it is, and the foam under the arch of the foot should be denser, overall the shoe should be comfortable. For more advice on footwear related to specific knee injuries consult with your doctor or physiotherapist. Also, Running experts advise wearing low drop shoes as it does not put load on the knees.
See our guide for the best running shoes for specific diseases.
- Surgery is required for some knee pain issues. This can include fractures, ligament tears such as an ACL rupture, plica excision, patella misalignment, or cartilage injury under the kneecap. Knee arthroscopy can be used to remove worn-out fragments from your joint or to trim or mend damaged cartilage and ligaments.
I am living in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I did my bachelor’s in medicine and surgery from Al Faisal University in Riyadh. Now I am looking forward to pursuing a career in medical and experimental research to find better solutions to the world’s problems.