Blog - Tuesday 13th February 2024

Knee pain – Stopped me running!

Kate Disley

Sports & Rehab Therapist

Client in gym

Conor has been on a journey to overcome long-term knee pain and get back to running consistently and pain free. During this blog Conor explains his challenge and how he has worked hard to achieve his goals.

The challenge

I’ve had lateral knee pain during certain activities, mainly running, for 15-20 years – ever since I was a teenager. I started running regularly as a hobby about 8 years ago and would experience knee pain that made me stop after only a mile. Some initial physiotherapy and strength exercises got me running regular 5 and 10ks over a few months. Joining a running club and running more frequently led me to completing a few half marathons and longer 20-mile races over a period of a few years.

However, my lateral knee pain was always a barrier. It would frequently come back a few times a year after a tiny increase in mileage or effort.  Resulting in me stopping running for a few weeks/months before slowly returning. I never could run the amount I wanted or train consistently.

Fast forward until a couple of years ago. I had seen numerous physiotherapists and running specialists, and even a surgeon, to try to address the issue. This included a number of diagnoses, strength and conditioning work, 3D gait analyses, regular soft tissue work, orthotics, an MRI, and a steroid injection. All of this resulted in little to no improvement and lots of head scratching by the professionals I’d seen. By this point, the knee pain had stopped me running almost completely and would irritate me walking over 4-5 miles. I’d also been dealing with posterior tibialis tendinosis for almost a year.

I came to Momentum in 2022 after hearing and reading good things about their results with getting injured amateur and professional athletes back active. My goal at this point was to have an initial session to get a program to getting back running, even just a Parkrun each week. I was really impressed at how welcoming and friendly the gym is.  The staff are knowledgeable and that there was never any issue with accessing equipment.

The  Plan

After assessing Conor both in the gym and using data from the Runeasi and Footscan we developed a plan together that initially focussed on his biomechanics, aiming to improve his movement patterns and single leg stability. We then started to add some heavy loads, building his lower limb strength which he responded really well too. With regular progress reviews we have worked together to carefully manage his load in the gym alongside building his running consistency and volume. It’s great to be at the stage now where we are making a more run specific programme, working on power and plyometric drills. Conor has has consistently shown up, determined and dedicated even during the sets backs.

The Achievements

Until about a year ago, my knee and ankle issues were still stopping me from running regularly although I was feeling much better outside of running. I had started a gradual run-walk program with Adam which was going well. Alongside this, I was working on the rehab program with Kate. I began running small 10-15 minute loops a few times a week, adding a few minutes each week.

During this process, I have learned a lot about how tendons respond to gradual load, which enabled me to manage my ankle issues more confidently. For the last 6 months, I’ve been working with Jordan on more heavily-loaded squats, split squats and deadlifts than I’d done in the past. I feel these have helped my knee issues massively.

Learning that running can produce loading forces of between 2 and 5 times bodyweight, that’s maybe not too surprising! I’m now back running 4-5 times a week, after building up very gradually from 5k runs to around 40-50k a week, which includes some faster sessions.

The improvement hasn’t always been linear. I know that my knee issues might always be a risk factor, but the trajectory of improvement in the last few months has been amazing. I’m feeling stronger than ever!

The Future Goals

I am currently still working with Kate on the rehab-focused programme and looking forward to continuing the strength work I have been doing the last 6 months. After sitting out injured for so long, I’m just happy being back regularly active again and I’m not taking that for granted! That said, I’m looking forward to continuing to build my running base volume over the next 6-12 months.

Longer term, I’d love to be able to get back racing half marathons and get closer to my old PB times.

If you are struggling with knee pain we have several options available to support you, please get in touch to see how we can help.