Why Knee Pain Gets Worse When You Exercise And How To Ease It…

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Why Knee Pain Gets Worse When You Exercise And How To Ease It…

Got this question sent to me yesterday by a “confused” reader of my blogs who is suffering with knee pain..


I am rehabbing my knee on my own. Not sure what I did.  I had irritation of my knee cap with swelling on top.  It hurts to run and walk. It hurts occasionally to  go down stairs but nothing like when I try and go running.

I can make it about 10 minutes and then I have to turn around and limp back home.

Any advice on how to get rid of that discomfort?

In my opinion, I have no tracking issues and I even went as far as putting an off the shelf Orthotic in my shoes.  Maybe it’s my running form?   I read somewhere on the internet that I should be doing a core and hip exercise routine as well as adding in some stretching but I am not sure what the right exercises would be.



–       Teri, 38, Ashburn


There’s a good chance that the same thing is happening to Teri as it does to most people this time of year…

It’s no surprise seeing as we’re now in Winter and heading into Spring quicker than we know it (even though it does not feel this way)…

This time of year we see more people than ever in my Physical Therapy clinic suffering with painful knees, the reason why? Because it’s around this time (of year) that people decide to be more active and take things up like running and walking for longer distances to get ready for Spring Break or the upcoming race season.

Even if they’re used to running, people tend to step it up and run a little longer than normal; usually its to get ready for  Spring and Summer vacations.  Sometimes (they are) adding in extra running days going from twice a week, to four times a week.

What’s likely going on with Teri is something called ‘runner’s knee’ – it’s got it’s nickname for an obvious and very unfortunate reason because it’s common among runners, and even those who are brand new to running.

If we run often, after a while the stress of running can cause irritation around the knee area. The resulting pain can be sharp and sudden, or irritating and dull. Sometimes it disappears when you’re running, only to return again afterwards.

The pain will generally feel worse when bending the knee, especially when walking or running downhill, or even something as simple as walking down a flight of stairs!

So why is Teri feeling pain in her knees?

Think of it like this – each time you run and bend your knee, your knee cap rubs against your thigh muscle, and just like if you were to rub your hand against your arm, eventually your arm would go red and become sore after a while… Well the same happens with your knees!

If you’re not used to running, OR, if you haven’t slowly built up how long you run for or how many times a week you choose to run as well, then this is going to be a shock to your knees.

Another thing, if the muscles around your knees are weak and tight, they’re not going to be able to support you through a run…

…without strong muscles to support your knee joints, (or just really tired and weak ones), you’re much more likely to suffer from aches and pains.

What is the solution to Teri’s problem?

It’s likely to be a simple case of strengthening the knee muscles (and hip and lower back ones too), to make them stronger and support Teri when she runs – not MORE exercising.

See, a lot of people think that exercising more is good for them, and it is to an extent, but only if you’re doing the right type of exercises to benefit everything else you’re doing.

Doing the right type of exercises, foam rolling and  stretches to strengthen the right muscles will mean your knees will be strong enough to walk and run for longer, with less pain at the end of the day.

You’ve got to build a strong foundation first before doing more as well as preventing any aches and pains suddenly creeping up on you which ultimately could put you out for a few weeks…


Want more tips and advice for knee pain? Visit my website here where you can pick up a copy of my free report instantly: https://aidperformancept.com/knee-pain/


Andrew Dombek is a nationally known Physical Therapist and founder of Northern Virginia's Leading Private Physical Therapy Specialist for athletes in their teens,30s, 40sand 50s, who want to keep healthy and active.

You might know Andrew from his early days working in downtown Washington D.C. where he was one of the former physical therapist for the finest athletes and performers in town performing at the Kennedy Center, in shows like Aida (The Timeless Love Story), The Producers, and the Washington Ballet.

Andrew (having been through many injuries throughout out his life), is a rare expert in understanding the psyche of returning to your sport after injury. Helping people stay active and giving back to his community are his passions. These characteristics have helped Andrew become an expert Physical Therapist and his Clinic to become the fastest growing PT clinic in Loudoun County.Over the last several yearshas become the premier physical therapy practice for runners in Northern, Virginia.Where the local running groups like the Ashburn Chapter of Mom's Run This Town as well as the high schools in his area like Broad Runand Briar Woods have retained AID Performance Physical Therapy for treating their runners and athletes.
Andrew Dombek, PT, MSPT, CMTPT, CGFI
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