Running Injury

Treating a Knee Injury: DIY or enlist a Pro?

By December 10, 2020April 29th, 2021No Comments

Most running injuries are nontraumatic by nature. And most non traumatic injuries are multifactorial, which means there are numerous factors contributing to injury.  While the internet is a great source of information, it can give very general medical advice.

For some running injuries, and for mini aches & pains, internet searches may yield information that is accurate and sufficient to stop an injury in its tracks or to prevent one from occurring in the first place.  

But for injuries that persist, get misdiagnosed, or treated improperly, it may be time to get specific about your self care. 

Two different runners can experience similar knee pain in the same general location, and a simple google search such as “treating knee pain for runners” will direct them to the same general information. But the actual cause of pain for each runner could be entirely different. For one runner, the cause could be tendon inflammation, while for the other it could be degenerative cartilage. Knowing the actual tissue source of your pain will help you be more specific in treating your injury.

Coaches and competitive athletes employ the concept of training specificity to maximize sport-specific performance.  Physical therapists utilize postural observation, joint-specific special tests, isolated and functional strength tests, biomechanical movement assessment, and running video analysis to diagnose injuries.  The ability of a physical therapist to determine which tissue is implicated in an injury is crucial.  And this diagnosis allows us to develop specific treatment plans for healing, or treating injuries.  Runners train with specificity, so why not treat injuries with specificity?

Not sure if you should DIY your treatment or consult a professional for your injury?  

Here are some other things to consider:


How long have you had this injury?  Has it become chronic or recurring? Have you been dealing with pain and compromised running for more than 3 weeks? 

>> time to consult a PT

Aches and pains in areas other than your initial injury

Did the first symptoms begin in your knee, and now your hip is starting to bother you? >> time to consult a PT

Other functional activities are declining

Were you fine climbing/descending hills or stairs, riding a bike, driving a car a while ago, but now these activities are bothering you? 

>> time to consult a PT

Localized pain and/or swelling persisting >24 hours after a run

>> time to consult a PT

Written by Susan Nowell, PT. 

Ultra-marathon runner and running-specialized PT.

Read more about how to find the right PT for you.

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