Knee Pain

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    Joey Dawson


    Locale: Northern VA

    I backpacked almost 30 miles last weekend in WV and ended up with some pretty bad knee pain. The last 5 miles were very painful, and I was basically limping along.

    The pain has gotten better the past few days – but I still don't feel as if I can run. I have a 5 mile trail running race on Sunday that I am hoping to make.

    I was hoping for some advise from the community on what might be going on with my knee. If it continues I will obviously seek a doctors advice.

    The pain is on the outside of my right knee. It ranges from the side just above my knee a couple of inches to right below, and even going behind the knee a bit. It is ok when walking, but I can feel it slightly. When attempting to run, or go up or down stairs at a decent pace, it is very painful – sometimes to the point where I feel like it is giving in on the weight.

    I have been icing it and going as easy as I can. From what I have read it could be a minor sprain, a IB issue, or a LCL issue (I hope not).

    Gonna be bummed if I don't race on Sunday.


    d k
    BPL Member


    My advice: go see a doctor before Sunday, preferably one who specializes in sports injuries. If you race on that knee without knowing what's wrong, you could do permanent damage and not be able to race again (worst case scenario). You should find out what the injury is before making a decision like that.

    I had an injury to my knee last summer that I was worried might be a meniscus tear; luckily it ended up being a torn ligament that healed with the aid of physical therapy (I highly recommend PT!!!). Now I'm back to hiking normally, but I was not able to for a few months.

    I hope that your knee problem is something simple and that it will heal soon.

    Joey Dawson


    Locale: Northern VA

    Think my general doctor is going to know enough about this to make the trip worth it? I will most likely need a referral to a sports therapist.

    Hikin’ Jim
    BPL Member


    Locale: Orange County, CA, USA

    Dude, scrub the run and save the knee. Don't do a run until you've seen a proper doc.

    I did a run a few years ago after screwing up my knee on a hike. It's never been the same since.


    Paul Siegel


    Locale: Southern Appalachians

    See a doctor, scrub the run. Live to fight another day.

    What you can be doing now is icing and mobilizing. Icing should occur 5x a day for 20 minutes at a stretch, and that's at a mininium. The skin should re-warm to body temperature before the next ice application.

    Mobilization is going to be primarily stretching the quad, calf and hamstring. You'll need to be foam rolling and active stretching. Watch this and do all of it: You'll need a lacrosse ball, a high tolerance for pain and a desire to get better. You cant hurt anything by doing this.

    Mike In Socal
    BPL Member


    Locale: California

    It sounds like a tight IT band. I've had it too. Get a foam roller and roll out the outside of your leg. See a doctor, preferably a physical therapist, to confirm.


    Jim Pemrick


    I second the IT band suggestion. I have had similar problems and it is due to a tight IT band.

    Joey Dawson


    Locale: Northern VA

    So I ran. I was feeling almost 100% on saturday, and decided to give it a go. Went to the doctors on Thursday, he said Tendonitis and said I could run if I felt up to it. Got through the 5.5 miles in pouring down rain and lots of mud, but with some decent pain kicking in around 3 miles and lasting through the remainder of the trail. Today I am paying for it – lots of pain when bending at the knee. I have three weeks until my next race, so lots of time to heal up. I have been icing and stretching since last week and will keep that up.

    Thanks for all of the advice, and links to information. Sorry I did not listen to all of it, I wanted to run :)

    . Callahan
    BPL Member


    Locale: London, UK.

    Perhaps consider trying some of the air activated heat pads which come with a surgical support to wear around the knee, and which have two small pockets in which to put the activated heat pads.

    I've used this type of heat pad for over 20 years to help reduce pain, increase range of movement and encourage healing.

    Knee Heat Pads

    Joey Dawson


    Locale: Northern VA

    Took 3 weeks off for the most part after my last update – ran a 5 mile trail race, and was in extreme pain the day after. So I visited a sports injury doctor who diagnosed me with an IT band injury and tendinitis. I have been going 2x a week for the past few weeks. I ran in the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle this past sunday, and have very little pain after. I ran 2 miles last night and was in some pain, but its not nearly as bad as before. Combination of PT and constant icing, stretches and strengthening have really helped. Amazing how this injury has really slowed me down overall, and its a slow healing injury.

    Corey Downing
    BPL Member


    Locale: Denver

    I killed my knee on a backpacking trip last summer. Had just graduated from school and drove with my girlfriend 13 hours to Vermont. ~11 miles the first day and my knee was in major pain at the end of the day. 4-5 night trip turned into a 1 night trip. Got a hotel room and relaxed the night and tried a day hike the next day. Made it about a mile before I had to give up and we drove home.

    I have since made it a point to maintain my strength and flexibility in my knee because I never want to experience the pain of walking 11 miles on a bum knee with a very heavy pack on my back. Oh, and lightening the load helps too.

    Good luck with your knee and take it easy. And don't stop with the stretching and foam rolling just because the pain goes away.

    Ron Bell / MLD
    BPL Member


    Locale: USA

    Good for you on the run!

    I had that same issue (IT Band) last year a month before a marathon when it flared up all at once ( first time ever for me) at the end of a 15mi training run. I only did swimming and light biking for a week -no running- then started back with the running and it was all OK and the marathon went well.

    Taking a week off did not hurt the training sched at all and I think the key to the rehab and running success was the light cross training recovery week. Now I use those type weeks any time I am pushing up training rapidly.

    Have not had the IT band issues since I now I do the IT specific stretches more often. Good chance it's all behind you…



    Locale: high country

    this is a good read.

    Justin Nelson
    BPL Member


    Locale: CA Bay Area

    DO you guys use trekking poles? I was having the same knee pains after every trip until I broke down and tried them. SO much better! I used to laugh at people using them but they really do make a difference on your knees especially for inclines and declines. Just my 2 cents.

    Mike In Socal
    BPL Member


    Locale: California

    I use trekking poles. I didn't try them for any other reason than just to try them.  I found out that my legs were less tired on long hikes and I could hike a faster pace. I could use my arms to help push me forward uphill and give me more stability going downhill. 

    Prior to hiking, I started experiencing knee pain on bike rides. It started to happen consistently between 16-20 miles into a ride. It wasn't until having ACL replacement surgery (unrelated sports injury) that I finally figured out that my knee pain was due to my IT band.

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