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

It’s no surprise seeing as we’re now heading into Summer quick than we know that this time of year we start to see more people than ever at Physical Achievement Center with painful knees. One of the main reasons why is 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.

And even if they’re used to running, people tend to step it up and run a little longer than usual to get ready for the summer, sometimes adding in extra running days going from twice a week, to four times a week.

If this sounds like you, what’s likely going on is something called “runners knee” – it’s got its 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 sometimes as simple as walking down a flight of stairs!

So why are you experiencing this pain your 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 ad 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 and how many times a week you choose to 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…

… And 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.

So the solution to your 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 when you want to run – not ignoring it and adding in MORE exercise.

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 and stretches to strengthen the right muscles will mean your knees will be strong enough to walk and run for longer, with less pin at the end of the day.

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

Want more tips and advice for knee pain? Click HERE to get your free report with 12 tips to help you overcome your nagging, annoying knee pain and get back to your active life!

About the Author

Eric Koehler

Eric Koehler - PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, Certified Dry Needling


Dr. Eric Koehler has been working as a Physical Therapist for over 25 years in the Oshkosh, Wisconsin and Fox Valley area. He has a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and has completed his Fellowship in Orthopedic Manual Therapy in 2017. This level of clinic training is only attained by 1% of all Physical Therapists. Eric's mission is to provide non-surgical, non-drug approaches to help individuals overcome pain and weakness to help them get back to enjoying their life.