Pain On Inside Of Knee When Running & Walking

Do You Get Pain On The Inside Of The Knee When Running Or Walking?

Watch the video to learn what causes pain on the inside of the knee and how to relieve inner knee pain...

Knee Pain Guide by Knee Pain Specialist Dr. Dave Candy. More 4 Life, St. Louis, Manchester, Ballwin, Chesterfield, Des Peres, Ellisville, MO Learn to relieve: knee pain when going up and down stairs, knee pain when sitting, knee pain when walking, and more!

What Causes Pain On The Inside Of The Knee?

Pain on the the inside of the knee is one of the most common places that people experience knee pain, along with pain on  pain on the front of the knee (kneecap), and pain on the outside of the knee.

Pain on the inside of the knee can be caused by:

  • Knee arthritis
  • A meniscus tear
  • A medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain
  • Or most commonly, by muscles and tendons.
Pain on inside of knee joint - medial knee anatomoy

Knee Joint Pain vs. Muscle Pain

Pain on the inside of the knee joint itself can be caused by knee arthritis or a meniscus tear. In these cases, the pain is usually deep inside the knee joint and you can't touch it with your fingers.

If you notice tender or painful areas on the inside of the knee or just below the kneecap, chances are the pain is coming from where the tendons of the thigh or hamstring muscles attach to the bones above or below the knee joint.

Even if you do have knee arthritis, if you notice tender areas on the inside of the knee, chances are it's likely that at least some of your knee pain is coming from your muscles, in particular your hamstring muscles and adductor (inside of thigh) muscles.  This is particularly true if your inner knee pain occurs when bending your knee.

Does your knee feel unstable?

If your knee feels unstable, like it won't hold your weight or it has actually given out on you in the past, it's worthwhile to have an MRI to rule out a meniscus tear or MCL tear.

Beware though: If you're over 40 and have an MRI of your knee, it's likely that they're going to find something "abnormal".  For this reason, if your knee pain isn't bad enough that you're ready to have surgery, there's probably no purpose in getting an MRI as it won't substantially change the way you treat your knee pain.

In the case of knee arthritis or a muscle problem though, the knee can feel a little unsteady or wobbly, and it may feel as if it's going to give out, but in most cases it won't actually do so.

Hamstring Muscles Can Cause Pain On The Inside Of The Knee

Your hamstring muscles are in the back of your leg.

However, one hamstring muscle, the semitendinosus, wraps around the inside of the knee and attaches to the front of the lower leg bone (tibia) just below the kneecap.

It attaches there with two other muscles, the sartorius and gracilis.  Collectively, these muscle attachments are called the pes anserine tendons.

pain on inside of knee when bending

Stretching your hamstrings, is one way to help if your your hamstrings are a cause of your knee pain.  This hamstring stretch targets the inner hamstrings, including the semitendinosis.

More importantly than what structure is causing your knee pain though is WHY did that structure start to hurt in the first place?

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Overpronation Is Common Cause Of Pain On The Inside Of The Knee Pain When Running And Walking

Pronation means the foot flattens and the lower leg twists inward. Pronation is a normal part of walking and running that allows you to absorb shock as your foot hits the ground.

However, either too much pronation, or too little pronation can cause problems.

Overpronation can cause knee pain when walking, but the forces get even higher when running (2-3 time bodyweight when running).

You need to pronate to absorb that shock, but if you pronate too much, it causes the knee to twist inward, and you can get inner knee pain.

Interestingly, the same problem can cause IT band pain at the hip or IT band pain on the outside of the knee, commonly referred to as runner's knee.

Properly fit running shoes and orthotics can definitely help control pronation.  It is a good idea to change your running shoes every 500 miles or so. However, as with most running injuries, just getting new shoes isn't always the answer. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

In fact, most knee problem aren't actually knee problems.

The knee pain is usually a symptoms of a problem in the hip, the ankle or foot, or sometimes even the lower back.

For example, stiff calves or weak hip muscles are common causes of knee pain.

The knee is usually just the thing in between getting beat up because the other surrounding body parts aren't working right.

Braces For Pain On Inside Of Knee?

Because most knee problems aren't actually knee problems, I don't often recommend braces for pain on the inside of the knee.

Braces don't change what's happening at the hip or the ankle, and so they don't often do much to help, at least in the long-term.

One situation where knee braces ARE helpful is if you have really bad medial knee arthritis and you're bow-legged.  This compresses the inner side of the knee joint together where the cartilage has worn away and can cause pain on the inside of the knee.

In these cases, a medial knee unloader brace can help relieve knee pain and prevent or delay knee replacement

If you DO have some knee instability or an MCL sprain or tear, a collateral support knee brace can help give you some stability and relieve pain on the inside of the knee.

Finally, if you're cold sensitive, a simple knee sleeve can help to keep the knee warm in the winter.

As I mentioned before, for MOST knee problems, I don't recommend braces.  However, these knee braces are ones that I recommend in specific instances.

How To Relieve Pain On The Inside Of The Knee

If the hamstrings and the inner thigh muscles are the cause of your knee pain, there are some very simple things that you can do to relieve your inner knee pain.

Tips To Relieve Pain On The Inside Of Knee Pain

  1.  Don't sit with one leg crossed over the other.  This makes the inner thigh muscles tight. Crossing one leg over another is often a lifelong habit. It is usually the same knee that is crossed, and this is frequently the knee experiencing pain. When sitting remind yourself to sit with both feet flat on the floor. When you inadvertently find yourself crossing your legs try to associate the leg crossing with the knee pain.
  2. Don't allow your foot to flatten when standing.  Keeping your arch lifted when standing and walking helps keep your knee in good alignment to prevent over-stressing the muscles, tendons, and ligaments on the inside of your knee. When your foot flattens, this causes the knee to rotate inward and that is what places stress on the muscles and ligaments on the inside of the knee. Slightly curling your toes encourages arch lifting and can relieve muscle stress when standing or walking.
  3. Turn your knee outward slightly so that your knee is over-top of your toes. Your feet should be straight forward or turned slightly outward. This vertical alignment reduces stress where the ligaments attach to the knee and reduces stress in the hamstring muscle. In toed or pigeon toe stances increase stress on the knee and leg muscles.
  4. Hamstring stretches can help relieve pain inside the knee. Since the hamstring is composed of three separate muscle groups, you will need to try several different stretches to determine if hamstring stretches will help. Tests to determine which stretches will help you and instructions how to stretch them are included in the following link: Stretch your inner (medial) hamstrings

I hope you find the tips to be useful!  If you try these things and still have pain on the inside of your knee, give us a call at 314-941-3970 or Request A Phone Call and we can further discuss your knee pain.

Here are some other posts about how to relieve knee pain that you might enjoy:

Do You Get Knee Pain At Night While Sleeping?  Check Our our great post on "How To Relieve Back Pain, Hip Pain, & Knee Pain At Night While Sleeping"!

Do You Get Knee Pain When Squatting?  Learn to Squat Without Knee Pain!

Do you get knee pain going up and down stairs? Check out the tips in our post "Prevent Knee Pain Going Up And Down Stairs"

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