Ideally, running should not be accompanied by series of pain that may occur in any parts of the body being involved in the activity. The reality is that many people suffer from discomfort and in some cases, pain when running downhill. While it seems to be easier and lighter than running uphill, running downhill may trigger worse soreness and fatigue in some runners.
What makes my knee hurt while running downhill?
Running should give your health some beneficial effects. However, you might also encounter knee pain while running in certain conditions, such as running down the hill. The main factor causing hurt knee when you run downhill is that you forcefully slow your speed down. When you are running downhill, the gravity gives back the energy that allows you to speed up. However, you might expect to slow down the speed by leaning backward, putting the weight of the body on your knees, which function as physical brakes. Thus, you knees become the center of the gravity, making them generate more force to start running again. As a result, pain might be encountered around the area of the knees.
Possible causes of hurt knee while running downhill
If you are suffering from constant knee pain while running downhill, even though you are not leaning backward to slow the speed down, there might be a couple of possible causes:
- Iliotibial band syndrome (ITB Syndrome)
- The ITB is the thick fibrous tissue that starts at the hip, runs through the length of the leg, and crosses over the knees. When you are running, you flex the knee frequently. The knees also support your whole body weight during the exercise. This excessive flexing of the knee may trigger irritation of the iliotibial band, causing dull ache and sharp pain when you are running.
- When running downhill, you put the pressure on the ITB, causing more inflammation and severe irritation. As a result, you are experiencing more intense pain on the knees.
- Runners knee syndrome
- The runners knee syndrome is caused by frequent contact of the femur and the patella in the knee cap. In most cases, the runners knee syndrome causes throbbing pain around the knee when you are walking. However, if you are running downhill, the contact happens more frequently and fast, despite of increased acceleration you are experiencing, causing more excruciating pain on the knee.
- The runners knee syndrome is caused by overuse of the knee and too-frequent contacts between the two parts of the knee. Hence, the more you move and the quicker you run, the more severe the caused pain becomes. Among all types of running, running downhill gives the biggest impact to the knee cap and thus, is responsible for the caused pain. If the pain gets more frequent and severe during walking, though, you will need to consult a doctor to have the condition observed, since leaving it untreated may worsen the condition.