How do you heal a hurt knee caused by too much running?

I ran too hard for a period of a few months about a year ago and now my knee hurts when I run for, say, a half-mile twice a week for a week or two. I’m only around 30, so healing should be possible. It doesn’t hurt when I walk or other normal activities, at least after I go a couple weeks without running.

I went to a doctor and he X-rayed my knee. He says he didn’t see anything and to “just take Aleve”, so I tried taking Aleve but it interfered with some other medication. I’m going to see a new doctor in the future since he seemed really apathetic.

I really love running, so whoever helped me with this would be my hero. I’m hoping someone will come up with an answer like “fish oil pills” or “chondroitin plus glucosamine” or whatever worked for them. I tried glucosamine for a while, but it didn’t seem to really do anything.

I prefer personal experiences rather than “I heard that XYZ works great”.

See another doctor. If you can get a good physical therapist, that might help-- or at least an evaluation. Not sure an X-ray is what you needed, as you might need to see the kind of soft tissue that an MRI would show.

If you miss exercise, try cycling. It might not cause any pain to your knees.

Describe the pain. That gives clues.

Strength training for the legs, squats, lunges, stairstepper, elliptical.
Weak quads are often the culprit.

Check your shoes that they match your foot type and check your foot plant. Ideally, you should be landing on the ball of your foot without overstriding/reaching out.
Your foot should land under your center of gravity-directly under you.

Ice and NSAIDS for the pain and any swelling.

ETA: cycle at high RPMs, low cadence/high resistance will further kill your knees.

I’d add the word TARGETED to strength training…in my case, my VMO is weak compared to the rest of my quads. This, along with some tightness, causes my knee cap to track to the outside of the joint. I do very specific exercises to strengthen that particular muscle.

Knowing exactly what the pain is…and what is causing it…is key to knowing how to treat it. There are simply too many variables.

Like people have said, a “hurt knee” isn’t specific enough to give recommendations. And unfortunately it’s very unlikely you’re going to find a solution as simple as “take fish oil tablets”.

I’d recommend seeing another sports physiotherapist (I’m assuming you didn’t go see a GP or general family doctor the first time?). Their treatments usually involve sports massages and ultrasound. They’ll be able to help figure out the problem and recommend solutions better than anyone online.

The only thing I’d mention about running itself, if you do it a lot, is to make sure you invest in some genuinely quality running shoes. Go to a dedicated running store and buy Nike Lunarglide running sneakers, or something equivalent, for $100+. I find the amount of padding and protection that running sneakers give your knees compared to regular sneakers is really noticeable. The first time you run in them you feel like you’re bouncing. Another suggestion might be to try and run on a softer surface - maybe a treadmill or a running track rather than concrete. Also it doesn’t feel like it but tarmac is significantly softer than pavement so if you’re doing road running, try and actually run in the road rather than the sidewalk.

Hrm…I’m surprised nobody has recommended a temporary pause to the heavy exercise???

Just take a break for a while, find out what the new doctor has to say. Maybe some soft tissue investigation will reveal a problem your old doctor couldn’t see with his xray. Is it just ONE knee? Sometimes injuries received while NOT running can cause pain when you go back to running. You may have not even realized the injury at the time.

For example I squished the side of my right knee between a 55 gallon drum of sand and the body of a truck a while back. It was only a minor irritation at the time, didn’t hurt too bad. Then it got worse and worse, eventually I couldn’t bend my knee all the way. After a while it healed, but I can’t imagine running or cycling while it was injured.

Just see what your new doctor has to say. Meanwhile, if it hurts, don’t run. It will get worse.

:Ding!: And we have a winner! “Only around 30?” So I’m guessing 33-34.

Pain is the Universe’s way of saying “slow down, you ain’t a spring chicken anymore.”

Medical advice is better suited to IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

Another vote for trying to get in to see a physical therapist or at least a session with a sports rehab expert. And also for finding a doctor who will make the effort to diagnose you and provide you with information that you can take to the therapist/rehab expert.

I have had “runner’s knee” since I was a teen, but a pretty mild case. Early on, I was told that I needed to strengthen the muscles above the knee, and that pretty much the only exercise that would do that are leg lifts.

Recently, I had a few sessions with a sports rehab guy. He suggested a number of exercises that also helped to strengthen the relevant muscles, eventually even including squats (proper form is crucial with those). Haven’t had even a twinge since working with that guy.

Our situations are undoubtedly different, as I refuse to run or do any high impact stuff, and my condition is mild and chronic, whereas yours sounds acute. But following through with someone who knows their stuff can make a big difference.

Look into a different style of running. A standard runner has a stride which is much like their walking stride only faster. The runner strikes the ground heel first with a straight leg and vaults forward. This type of stride is terrible for avoiding injury. It doesn’t matter what type of shoe you have. A huge amount of force is transmitted up your leg and through your body, leading to various injuries.

Take a look at barefoot, pose or chi style of running. In these strides, you land on more on the ball of your foot. Your leg is slightly bent and it absorbs the impact, which will lessen the chance of injury.

I personally prefer barefoot because you are getting immediate feedback on how you are landing. You cannot land on your heel (it hurts too much), so you naturally land with proper foot placement. I have cysts in the bones in my ankles and thought I was done with running since it hurt so much. But by switching to barefoot, I can now run pain free.

I haven’t run for years, but nowadays when I have knee pain (about twice in the last two years) I just rest a bit and do exercise that strengthens my quads (leg press, etc). Works for me. YMMV.

My wife is mid-40s and running a half-marathon next week. And she’s pain free. My neighbor is running another Iron Man this fall and he’s also mid-40s. My other neighbor is running a 10-miler with me, and he’s in his 60s. He doesn’t hurt either. Your assumption is really not helpful and a little offensive to those of us who are active beyond the age of 25.

To the OP, runnerpat advice is very good. There’s probably a mechanical issue that’s not working for you. A physiotherpist (one who works in sportsmed preferably) will probably be able to figure out what’s causing the problem and provide exercises to correct it.

I went from running 10 miles three times a week to not lasting 10 minutes due to an issue in my gait that finally caught up with me. I had to stop running for a bunch of weeks to allow the irritated tissue to calm down, but the physio exercises I had to start right away (boring as hell though, lemme warn you). My exercises were all about my hip abductors, no leg lifts for me, is was all about “clamshells” and this thing called the “crab walk” with a theraband. My knee pain was mostly related to my IT band though.

There are a lot of different issues that can cause knee pain. It’s just figuring out which one is yours and then getting the right treatment.

ETA: And the first doctor you saw was a weanie.

I put on heavy sweat pants and take a low cadence exercise cycle ride to keep my knees and shin nice and warm. Before and after my workout. Sports doctor suggested it to me, and I haven’t had knee pain from my sports as much since, or at least not as much since!

Actually, I would advise AGAINST the use of NSAIDs. Some studies suggest that they can actually interfere with the healing of tendons and ligaments (see A lot of physicians continue to prescribe them, but I suspect that’s because they haven’t been made aware of this fact.

I would suggest using other anti-inflammatories instead, such as bromelain and omega-3 fatty acids. There are a variety of other natural alternatives to NSAIDs, such as turmeric and rosemary. However, there is some uncertainty about whether they might also hinder collagen formation – and thus, the healing process – due to their effect on the cyclooxygenase pathways. Personally though, I would give them a shot, since I think that there are solid reasons to avoid NSAIDs.

IANAphysician, mind you, and I should emphasize that. Based on my experience with various medical practitioners though, I do believe that many of them have not kept up to date on these matters. (Many of them continue to treat knee tendon injuries as cases of tendinitis, for example, even though tendinosis would be a more accurate description thereof.)

Try a second opinion with an orthopedic doctor, preferably one specializing in sports medicine, and see if you can get an MRI. An x-ray won’t show anything if you did something to your tendons/ligaments.

(Based on my actual experience of being told I had tendinitis based on an X-ray and then being diagnosed with a torn meniscus once I got an MRI.)

I had been running for over a year - never more than 3 or so miles - with no pain. As a matter of fact I have never had any knee pain in my life.
One day in Jan of this year I had a little pain in my left knee about 1/2 mile into a run. I slowed to a walk and when it didn’t go away i stopped after 5 minutes. The next day I could barely walk. Ortho says “tendonitis”
My symptoms were - pain always especially when walking down stairs or squatting.
I have still not made it back to fulltime running yet.
I just recently started to play tennis a little again. It has been hell. No damage just the inflammation under the knee cap.
The key here is my first physical therapist overworked the knee for 2 months giving me this gee whiz electrical treatment and ice and leg press- they basically were too aggressive and my knee got no better but I got a lot poorer.
I took a couple weeks to find a better therapist who listened to my problems and recommended stretching and very slight strength exercises. it is now just fully healing after over 3 months with him. My knee was really bad for a while then got much better, but not healed , and since then has gotten slowly better - very slowly better.
To be honest I would probably be better by now if I had just taken it easy and done the stretching and rest starting back in January.
I hope you find out what it is and get better soon.
If it makes you feel any better the new physical therapist says that almost everyone who runs long enough ends up with some sort of injury or another (chronic pain) he should know since he is a runner and has a ton of clients who are elite level and a lot less runners (me)and they all come in to see him almost every season.
good luck!

How out of shape are the 30 year olds around you that you would,even in your wildest dreams, suggest that someone who is running only 1/2mi a couple times a week needs to slow down??? You can’t be serious.

I’d bet the average 60 year old could easily run 1/2mi a couple times a week without much issue.

There is a great book called “Running Well” by Sam Murphy and Sarah Connors. Celly recommended it and it’s awesome! Every exercise a physiotherapist has ever given me, can be found in that book. The book is very thorough when it comes to exercises that you should do regularly for injury prevention. It also has a lot of detailed flow charts for common injuries, and exercises that address them. So the knee pain flow chart goes: Where? (inside, outside, front, or back), When? (description of activities that cause the pain), What? (deep dull ache, sharp pain, flicking etc.), a Common Diagnosis, Common Cause, the Quick Fix (three days, rest, ice, certain exercises, go to doctor asap etc.)

I would go along with everyone else and see a physiotherapist, particularly because it sounds like your discomfort is relatively acute and preventing you from resuming your training. I also strongly recommend the book because those exercises are key to improving your chances of preventing the small wear-and-tear injuries that can have a lousy cumulative effect that makes you have to quit for several months. Been there, done that, made me crazy. I started running in my 30’s and the best advice I can give is STOP when you feel pain, don’t try to run through it. My problem was that I had good cardio from other activities, so it was easy to over-train because it didn’t feel tiring, but my joints really protested and I got a completely preventable injury from not easing myself into it. My plan is to run a marathon when I’m 40. Prior to my injury, I was running 15k comfortably once a week with shorter runs in between.

I thought ExTank was joking/wooshing and imitating the dismissive patronizing bullshit attitude that the OP got from the doctor he originally saw. “Well, pooh-pooh. Take some Advil and don’t try to run so, you aren’t 18 anymore.” rather than addressing the OP as a patient with a valid complaint that COULD be addressed and corrected if the doc could be bothered for a referral.

Edit: Don’t be put off by the book’s cover. It’s not a girly running book, but it looks like it belongs in the yoga section. Think of it this way: One of the authors is SARAH CONNORS - that chick outruns Terminators!