Sore knees after running are frequently caused by overusing the knee joints, incorrect pre- and post-run stretching, and jogging on hard terrain. Moreover, bad running form and weak leg muscles can cause knee pain. You can read more on some of the causes in our article "Sore Knees After Running: What You Need To Know.
Sore knees after running are frequently caused by overusing the knee joints, incorrect pre- and post-run stretching, and jogging on hard terrain. Moreover, bad running form and weak leg muscles can cause knee pain. You can read more on some of the causes in our article "Sore Knees After Running: What You Need To Know".
A great acronym to remember when your knees are hurting after a run is POLICE.
This recovery acronym is a great way to remember how to tread the knee after running, especially if it is sore. It has been progressed and adapted since the early RICE protocols (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) and what we will do is cover each section.
If your knees are hurting after running you want to protect them from becoming worse. This protection can come in different forms:
1. It can simply be achieved through the process of finishing your run. If running is the aggravator then ending the run will prevent any additional damage.
2. Changing footwear to something you know to be more comfortable and supportive in the lower leg can prevent abnormal loading of the knee joint.
Gone are the days when complete bed rest is expected for the management of any injury. A study completed in 2015 found that optimal loading of an injured joint will help to stimulate the healing process and, in some cases, mitigate the requirement for surgery.
But what is optimal loading? Simply put it is using the injured side as best you can without causing further pain or injury. For a knee joint, it could be walking shorter distances, changing your footwear or using a support such as a pair of crutches if required.
Ice, or cryotherapy, helps to reduce pain and swelling in the knee. It also slows the pain signals to the brain so it slows the body's pain response. In new (acute) injuries the body's pain response is required to start the healing process but for longer-term conditions (chronic) the pain response can be detrimental to healing and recovery. There is a great book called Explain Pain that dives into the physiological and psychological impact that pain, especially chronic pain, has on the body.
When to ice and how long for?
If it is a brand new injury or it has happened as a result of some form of a trauma you want to avoid using ice for the first 24 hours after injury. This is because we want the body to heal itself during this stage. After 24 hours, you can use ice.
When using icing for the purpose of treating sore knees after running you want to aim for 20 minutes. This will allow the cold to penetrate deep enough to elicit the physiological response required. you can use bags of ice but you may need to place a barrier between the knee and the ice to prevent any skin damage or irritation. For best rest results you want to use something like the Riixo Knee Cuff which applies targeted ice as well as compression and external support.
Applying compression to sore knees has two primary functions
1. It applies additional support to a joint that may already be slightly weaker due to pain and fatigue. By providing support it feeds into the "protection element" of the recovery protocol. Supporting a weakened structure will prevent any secondary damage to the area and help facilitate a faster recovery.
2. It manages the level of swelling in the joint. Without compression, it is only the soft structure of the knee that manage the volume of swelling in the area like a water balloon being filled up. By applying compression you still enable this swelling to occur but it prevents excessive swelling, like placing a water balloon in a box and then filling it up
There is no time limit on how long you can wear compression but it is strongly advised that you DO NOT sleep in compression unless advised by your doctor. Sleeping in compression can significantly increase your risk of a blood clot or DVT.
This is to reduce the effects of gravity and make it easier for the body to process any excess fluid or swelling. As the knee is below the heart the blood, and fluids, need to be pumped upwards against gravity. This is why it is common to see secondary swelling or bruising in and around the calf and ankles if you have a knee injury as everything pools at the lowest point. By sitting down with your foot on a stool or on a cushion on the bed you reduce the directional pull that gravity has and make it easier for the body to process.
Ice, heat and compression in our award-winning knee support
Bleakley CM, Glasgow P, MacAuley DC. PRICE needs updating, should we call the POLICE? British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2012; 4(4):220-221.
Glasgow P, Phillips N, Bleakley C. Optimal loading: key variables and mechanisms. British journal of sports medicine. 2015; 49(5):278-279.
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