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Can I Still Run With Mild Knee Pain?

Can I Still Run With Mild Knee Pain?

Running is a great form of exercise. But the pounding can take a toll on your body, especially the weight-bearing knees. 

At Orthopedic & Wellness in Frederick, Waldorf, and Germantown, Maryland, our orthopedic and pain management physicians, Dr. Ojedapo Ojeyemi and Dr. Matthew Roh, recommend that you stop running if you have knee pain, even if it’s mild. If after a week you still have pain, it’s time to see a specialist.

Pain is a symptom that something is amiss, and taking a little break gives your knee time to heal. Here’s why you shouldn’t run with mild knee pain.

About those knees

Your knees are large, strong, and complex joints. 

Forming the connection between the thigh bone and shin bone, your knees allow you to walk, run, bend your legs, and balance, all while supporting the weight of your upper body. The surrounding ligaments, tendons, and cartilage support movement and provide stability to the knee joint. 

When you run, the components of your knee joint work together, propelling you forward and acting as a shock absorber. Because of the function, size, and complexity of the knee, injuries are common. Running places additional stress and strain on your knees, increasing risk of injury.

What your knee pain means

Knee pain from running may occur from many causes. If your pain is mild, you may have an overuse injury such as tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) or bursitis (inflammation of the bursae sacs). 

Early stage osteoarthritis may also cause mild knee pain. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that causes pain from the gradual wearing away of the cartilage that separates the bones in the joint.

More serious injuries like sprains, tendon tears, and meniscus tears may cause severe pain at the time of the injury, making it difficult to walk. 

With an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, your pain may improve within a few days, allowing you to bear weight on the injured knee. But this slight improvement in pain and function doesn’t mean you’re all better.  

When to resume running

If you have mild knee pain, you should take a break from running. Your pain is likely due to overuse, and continuing to use the complex joint may worsen the injury. 

If you continue to have pain after a week of rest, schedule an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation, diagnosis, and targeted treatment plan. Physical therapy and changing your shoes may relieve your pain and reduce a risk of recurrence of the injury.

You should also schedule an appointment with your doctor if your knee pain is severe, gets worse over time, or makes walking impossible.   

We don’t recommend running if you have mild knee pain. Continuing to run with an injury may cause further damage — running out the pain doesn’t work. 

If your knee pain is keeping you from engaging in your preferred form of exercise, give our office a call or book an appointment online today. Our team can find the cause of your pain and develop a plan that helps you get back to your active lifestyle sooner.

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