Couch to 5K

My knees hurt. Help!

I am only in week 3 of the couch to 5k plan. I have been loving it until last week i decided to go a different route, some where more uneven under foot, and came home with painful knees. The pain is the same in both knees, and feels like it's under my kneecaps. It hurt when i ran after my children in the park, and when i went up and down stairs. I left a two day gap before going again (back on the flat this time). My knees were painful. I saught advie from my pilates teacher who recommended getting fitted for running shoes. I did (feeling a little poorer now). The man in the shop, having analisyed my gait on the treadmill, said i had fallen arches, which could well be contributing. I left it two days again, to give my knees time to get better. I've just come back from a run (session 2 of week 3). My knees hurt straight away. My stride feels all wierd. I saw it through to the end, which perhaps i shouldn't have done. Please help! What can i do? Should i rest a whole week? Am i just not built for running?

18 Replies

make sure you get yourself checked out by a proper health professional, if your knees are swollen and hot it could be ligaments, it if is just when your knees are under pressure it could be the cartilage, but check it out to make sure you are not doing yourself any harm, otherwise it would not be worth putting yourself through the 9 weeks, you would be in agony it wouldn't be any fun and there would be no health benefits at all, in the meantime it may help to go swimming, as this would take any stress off of your joints, I really hope you can come and join us but please do get yourself checked out, best of luck :-)


When I first started running, my knees were so sore I could barely walk. I decided to get fitted for orthodics and I have been fine ever since. It is amazing what proper running shoes will do for you. Good luck to you, I know how frustrating it can be not to be able to run due to soreness.


It could be the route you ran put extra strain on joints and muscles that haven't been used to all that hard work and are just protesting a bit. Icing them and something like ibuprofen gel or tablets might be helpful to ease the pain and reduce any inflammation. If you're in any doubt, a trip to the Doctors or a Sports Physio might be a good idea.

On a practical note though, are you trying to run too fast, a very common error, or are you possibly overstriding?

You might not think you are but the next time you go out (make sure your knees have recovered before you do!) really think about the length of your stride. Take short steps with your feet ideally landing in line with your body, not in front of it.

Don't land on your heel - that can be a major cause of knee pain! Try to land mid-foot. Try not to land too heavily, keep the landings as light as you can by not lifting your feet too far off the ground, just far enough to stop you tripping over them. ;-)

And keep it slow and steady! However fast you start out, slow it down a little - you'll be surprised what a difference that can make.

Hope they get easier with some rest and that you can carry on before too long.


I switched from heel striking to mid foot, feels much better. Word of caution though, if you're not a natural mid foot striker, be sure to try and land flat, this might sound daft, but I hadn't realised that I was landing on the outer edge of my foot and it strained something - had to lay off for 3 weeks and it's taking a while to return to where I was...


I, too, had painful knees, I was a bit further thru, it came on after I ran on a road, it was only for about a mile- but boy, did I pay for it!

For about a week I had terrible trouble and when I tried to run, it was as you describe- it just felt weird - my knees were definately telling me NO!

I did some research and as dottimay says, I concluded that I was probably over striding- I found some good demo's on you tube about running with a mid foot strike and I've not looked back!

I found it helpful to just have some good long walks for a week, til things settled down and regular ibuprofen, if you can take them.

Hope you are back at it soon :)


pls find the reason for the pain and first , you have not shared about ur health and also about your weight. In case if you were over weight the condition is really bad. ;check how bad is the pain and consult a dr before going in for home remedy if u were obese pls reduce your wt and make yourself comfortable.


I'm by no means a skinny, but really not over weight. I am a busy mum of three. I run after toddling twins all day, so i am quite active. my overall health is very good. I am new to running and it's the only thing I can find time to do to get my heart rate going. I will go and see the the GP, but for such a non essential appointment I will have to wait about 6 weeks, after which he will no doubt just pass me on to the physio.


I've just posted a similar question at week 3 so some of theses answers actually have also helped me! I think I'm going to have a few days off running to recover and there are some knee strengthening exercises on the NHS choices website so I am going to try those along with some yoga which I'm hoping will help. Would be good to know how you're getting on!


Hi there! I haven't run since I posted. I took Ibruprofen (400mg a day), and after a week the pain went. I spoke to the chiropractor that runs my Pilates class and she said stop until I've seen a physiotherapist. I have an appointment next Wednesday. I'll let you know how I get on. Xx


My knees started hurting after about week 4. I went to the doctors just to make sure that I wasn't doing myself any permanent damage. My knees also started to 'click' when I walked downstairs. Luckily the Dr said that I wasn't causing any damage and it was just a result of starting to exercise so I could carry on. It is always better just to get it checked.


My knees hurted a lot after a while, I went to a physio and he said that I did not stretch properly. I know your could be a lot different reasons, but I also agree that your should seek help. I strongly believe the physiotherapist road is the way to go. They really will be familiar with your type of pain.

Best of look and keep us inform, I hope you will fee better soon and ready to run.


I'm doing week 8 run 1 tomorrow night but I had knee troubles the exact same time as you. It was sort of under the knee cap and towards the inner part of the knee/leg. They felt hot afterwards and remained uncomfortable after I had stopped running and days after but I certainly wasn't in agony.

I carried on running to see if I could ease them out, had a hot shower straight after, spent more time on stretching everything out afterwards and took a nurofen, this all seemed to help. I found a cold compress made them feel worse.

Then I had a 4 day break of doing nothing (family comittments and so on). I had booked to see the GP but by the time I saw her my knees had recovered and I have had no problems since. However, if I over stride now (because I'm trying to go faster) I can feel my knees protesting a little and recognise it so shorten things up and they seem OK.

I run on a mix of grass, uneven paths and road. I was also very new to exercise and overweight.

I suspect the combination of mixed running surfaces, new to exercise and being overweight all contributed the problem.

This, of course, is only speaking from my own experience. I was so worried that my knee troubles would spell the end of something I had really started to enjoy but in the end I think it boils down to terrifying my body with something it just wasn't used to!

I would agree with the others on here about getting it checked out properly. It can do no harm, but I would also suggest having a proper, longer break of 3-4 days of doing very little (if your twins allow!).

Best wishes and hope it all turns out OK.


I had the same experience, though I am obese. I went to my docs and she Dr said it was just my knees were in shock at being expected to work harder. She said to buy ibuprofen gel and take a painkiller and I rested for 3/4 days and was fine.

Go to the docs if you can.


It's hard, but the recommendation for running faster is to increase the cadence and keep the stride to the same length.


Really? That's interesting. We have a couple of low hills near me. I'll give that a try. Thanks


I have had knee trouble twice and the only thing I could do was rest them until they were better. I just couldn't run on them. I was devastated as I was doing so well, I took to my bike instead, there is no pressure in your knees as you are sitting down. I could keep my fitness level whilst my knees got better. I enjoyed the bike more than I expected and took part in a bikathon which was great. I haven't touched the bike since I got back to running though. Good luck x


Thanks everyone. I haven't run since I posted this, and I've taken the advice of many of you and found a Physiotherapist. I have an appointment next week. My knees hurt for a week, and I sounded like an old lady going up and down stairs. Ibruprofen helped. I will post again if I get some success with the Physio.


I know this was posted 2 years ago (lol), but I do have some advise. I also had problems with my knees when running. Sometimes your knees hurt when you start running, but as you warm up it goes away...but in this case I think it's the fact that you may run farther than you're capable of... When the leg muscles you use for running aren't strong enough for running longer distances, all the pressure goes to your knees.

So to stop your knee pain, the best thing is stop immediately when they start hurting to prevent injury and instead do exercises that will strengthen the muscles around your knee. Ice can also help ease the pain after running (put the ice on for 15 mins then off for 15 mins). Also don't forget to stretch your muscles before doing hard activities.

Hope this helps :)


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