Pain While Running

Ask the Expert

Q:

I just started running on a treadmill, and my knees and ankles hurt a little while running. Is this from adjusting to running, or do I need to reconsider my shoes or running surface? Is it better to run on a track at the local high school than on my treadmill?


A:

Several factors could be contributing to your leg pain. You might simply be doing too much too soon. As a first-time runner, you need to start off slowly by walking and then build up to running. At the start of each exercise session, walk on the treadmill for about five minutes to warm up your muscles. Then gradually increase to the desired speed. Doing leg stretches also may help minimize pain and/or injury. You'll get the most benefit from stretching when it's done over several weeks.

How you run can also create pain in your ankle or knee. For example, your foot may be rolling inward or outward when it strikes the treadmill's belt. A shoe designed specifically for running might add support. In addition, since running on a treadmill allows only a limited amount of space, you may be altering your gait. That can put added strain on joints and cause pain.

There are pros and cons to running on a treadmill or track. A treadmill gives you a bit more "cushion" than most tracks, while running on a track allows you to move freely, decreasing the chances of affecting how you run. Try both types of running and see which feels more comfortable for you. If the pain is persistent or severe, see your health care provider.

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