Knee pain is a very common exercise complaint. The knee is definitely an intricate joint, involving bones, menisci, muscles, tendons, and ligaments all supporting the joint. When there is damage or stress to the of those components, you may have achy knees. Plus, many physical activities-running, jumping, stretching, bending-can place a lot of strain, impact, or body weight on your legs, and as a result, cause pain while you work out. This really is common among weekend warriors who work out intensely?but inconsistently. You may also develop tendonitis over time if you are regularly doing these motions.
Some reasons for knee pain really are a bit more serious, however. A typical cause in young adults, especially those who exercise or play high-impact sports, is patellofemoral pain syndrome. Also referred to as runner’s knee, this syndrome is characterized by pain in the soft tissues and bone around the kneecap. Treatment may involve rest and physical therapy to stabilize the knee joint. Or, it is possible the cartilage in your knees has suffered some deterioration with use and age (osteoarthritis), in which case you might have to alter your workouts and incorporate more low-impact activities, like swimming, while using elliptical, or cycling, to reduce the pain sensation.
Doing away with general knee pain from exercising might just be dependent on perfecting your form when you, say, run or do squats and lunges. A few sessions with a certified fitness expert or physical therapist can help you learn these basic movements so that you’re doing them with correct form each time and never putting yourself at risk of injury or long-term damage. Or else you might need to do physical therapy to enhance your knee stabilization. But since there are a lot of possible causes of knee pain, your best bet is to speak to your doctor to get the specific help you need.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.