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Better Running for Health
Health and Wellness Articles by Pulse

How to Avoid Knee Pain & Foot Pain While Running


If you’re someone who exercises regularly, or is interested in starting to, chances are you believe ‘running’ is probably the best choice to start with as it is the most convenient since there is no equipment required. 

Other than putting on your workout clothes and running shoes, you just need to pick out a suitable running spot - be it around the house, in the park, or on the treadmill at the gym. And that’s it, you’re ready to go for a run.

Running is extremely beneficial for both your physical and mental health. It also helps reduce the risk of developing various diseases such as:

  • It reduces the risk of having a stroke

  • Helps your lungs work better

  • Helps the circulatory system work normally

  • Helps relieve stress

  • Helps to improve your mental health and encourages good moods


Although running offers many advantages, we often hear that the post-run experience isn’t so great. We are often faced with injuries such as leg pain, knee pain and foot pain as a result of running. So how do you avoid these injuries? 

In this article, we’ll take you through the causes of these symptoms and all the correct protection methods to help prevent them from occurring.


What is the cause of pain after running?

  • The pain right outside the knee and under the kneecap usually occurs when the muscles in the thigh and hip are not strong enough to support the weight of your body while running. Thus, resulting in a heavy impact falling to the knee.

  • Leg pain in the shin and calf is most common in people who have just started running because the shin and calf muscles have not been heavily used. When running, that muscle has to support your weight for a long amount of time, causing leg cramps.

  • Foot pain in the Achilles tendon and hamstrings as well as bruises is due to excessive weight and impact on the area and the impact is what causes the pain.


As you can see, there are many factors that can cause injuries but these symptoms can be avoided by properly preparing your body to be ready before and after - as well as during  your run - to make running more efficient.

Here are some ways to avoid injuries whilst running:


Begin with a body warm-up

When comparing warming up to driving, it is the same as warming up the engine before you start driving. Without any pre warm-ups, the engine would have to work hard along the way for a very long time and can often get damaged.

The same goes for running to avoid injuries from occurring. It is important to warm up with a focus on the muscles, ligaments, joints, as well as the respiratory and circulatory systems. This can be done as follows:

  • Walk slowly for 3-5 minutes before starting your run to help relax the muscles, tendons and joints to make sure they are ready to work. Then, start by jogging gently in place to help stimulate your body’s temperature and increase your heart rate.

  • Take long steps apart, alternating between each side for about two minutes to help stimulate blood flow to your muscles and increase flexibility.

  • Stretch the muscles from the thighs, calves, front hips all the way to the toes, stretching each part and holding the position for approximately 15 seconds each time.

  • Extend and stretch the tendons especially around the knee by standing straight and spreading your legs whilst leaning from side to side. Perhaps, laying on your side and lifting your leg up and down, alternating sides and holding each stretch for 10 seconds.


Fix your running posture

Having a correct running posture is key in avoiding pain or preventing injuries from running. Many people may run in a way they are comfortable with, but that may not be the ideal running style or best cushioning from running.

Let’s take a look at some effective running moves that can help reduce injuries, some of which includes:

  • Balancing the body

While running, keep your core in balance. Start with your eyes straight ahead, keep your back straight while running, and lean forward a little but not to the point where you are in a bowing position.

  • Use your arms and hands to help control your running posture

Slightly spread your arms whilst holding loose fists while swinging to the pace of your run, using your shoulder blades as a pivot point that helps improve your pace.

  • Apply the right weight and steps

One of the most common questions we encounter is: “where should we put our weight when running? Is it on our toe, midfoot or heel?”

Putting your weight on the forefoot involves touching the ground with your toes, followed by your heels. This way, your body will experience the impact once it has landed on the ground.

Thus, the impact is more likely to fall on the ankle and Achilles tendon than any other running posture; this is popular with speed enthusiasts when running.

Placing your weight on the midfoot is a position where all the areas of the foot are in contact with the ground, with the calf and ankle ligaments supporting the weight and improving flexibility as the foot lands. But this is a very difficult move and is not suitable for long runs.

Finally, the weight to place on the heel. This is the most popular running style because you do not feel any pain following this posture. However, this posture ends up making your knees, back and even hips more affected by the direct impact of the heel more than you may think.

So, the answer is that all three types of running are likely to cause injury differently depending on which footing you choose to adjust to. By choosing the posture you think is appropriate and gradually adjusting to it little by little, you can help your body slowly adapt.

There is no need to change immediately because it doesn’t allow your body to adjust and readjust everytime and you may end up with more injuries than usual.

Another factor that equally affects injuries is the distance between each stride taken. Your feet should be in line with the body and each stride should not be too long because it will receive more impact.


Finish with a cooldown every time

Before the end of every run or any kind of exercise, the last step is indispensable. Stretching after a run or having a physical cool down by moving your body slowly to help reduce your heart rate and breathing back to normal. It also contributes to reducing muscle pain after exercise.

Here is how to cool down after a run:

  • Prepare to stop running by slowing down and walking slowly for 5-10 minutes to help reduce muscle soreness after the run.

  • Stretch different muscles in the thighs, hips, calves and back to return them to normal and improve flexibility.


Protect your knees today to avoid injuries tomorrow

Finally, even though these injuries, whether it be knee pain, leg pain or foot pain, aren’t happening today and may make you neglect proper preparation for running, remember that these symptoms are accumulating over the next three to four years.

What is important to understand is how to exercise longer with fewer injuries - or better yet, no injuries at all. Just try the methods presented above. It’s not too late if you are starting now.