Can You Get Runner’s Knee From Hiking? (Explained)

One of the most common questions runners have is whether they can get runner’s knee from hiking. 

The answer is no, but there are some similarities between them. Let’s look at each one in detail and see if you might have runner’s knee or PFPS (patellofemoral pain syndrome).

A few things you NEED to know about knee pain – YouTube
Runner’s knee can be developed from hiking due to repetitive stress and strain on the knee joints.
Maintaining proper form, using trekking poles, and wearing appropriate footwear can help prevent runner’s knee while hiking.
Strengthening the muscles around the knees is crucial for preventing runner’s knee during hiking.
If experiencing persistent or worsening pain, swelling, or difficulty in daily activities, it is advisable to seek medical attention.
Understanding the symptoms and taking necessary precautions can help manage and minimize the impact of runner’s knee while hiking.

What is Runner’s Knee?

Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a common type of knee pain that usually affects runners, but can also affect people who participate in any activity that involves repetitive bending and straightening of the knee. 

The pain is felt in front of the knee joint. It may be sharp and intense, or a dull ache. It’s possible to have it all day (constant) or only when you’re doing certain activities (intermittent).

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Can You Get Runner’s Knee from Hiking?

Yes, you can get runner’s knee from hiking. Hiking is a repetitive activity that can cause the same symptoms as runner’s knee. 

Runner’s knee is caused by inflammation of the patellar tendon, which connects your kneecap to your shinbone (tibia). 

The condition causes pain and tenderness in the front of your knee and makes it difficult to bend or straighten your leg

The good news? If you have runner’s knee from hiking, there are treatments available. If you don’t want to take medication, try stretching exercises and strengthening exercises for quadriceps muscles on both sides of your thighs.

Risk FactorsRunningHiking
Repetitive StrainHighModerate
Impact ForcesHighLow
Terrain VariationLowHigh
Footwear ImportanceHighHigh
Muscle ImbalancesCommonPossible

How to Prevent Runner’s Knee from Hiking

To prevent runner’s knee from hiking, make sure that you warm up before you start hiking and cool down after you finish. 

Staying hydrated is also an important factor in preventing runner’s knee from hiking. If your boots are too tight or your shoes don’t fit properly, this can lead to pain in the knees while hiking. Make sure that both of these things are adjusted before hitting the trails again!

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What are the Symptoms of Runner’s Knee?

It can be hard to tell if you have runner’s knee. The pain is usually in the front of your knee, and it may feel like you have a sharp pointy rock wedged under your kneecap that keeps jabbing into your cartilage.

The symptoms of runner’s knee include:

  • Pain when running, walking up stairs or hills, kneeling down, sitting for long periods of time, squatting etc.
  • Pain that gets worse as the day goes on (if caused by exercise)
  • A stiff painful feeling in the front of your thigh when you wake up in the morning or move around after lying down for awhile

How is Runner’s Knee Diagnosed?

If you suspect that you have runner’s knee, it is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. 

The most common way of diagnosing runner’s knee is through observation of symptoms and physical examination by your doctor.

Your doctor will ask about the symptoms that are bothering you, and may check for swelling in the affected area. He or she may also order x-rays or an MRI scan to rule out other causes for your pain.

Diagnostic MethodsDescription
Physical ExaminationA healthcare professional examines the affected knee and assesses range of motion, tenderness, and swelling.
Medical HistoryGathering information about the individual’s symptoms, activities, and past injuries to understand the context of the condition.
Imaging TestsX-rays, MRI scans, or ultrasound may be used to evaluate the knee’s internal structures and rule out other potential causes of pain.
Functional AssessmentAssessing movement patterns, muscle imbalances, and biomechanics to identify contributing factors to the condition.
ArthroscopyIn some cases, a minimally invasive procedure may be performed, allowing the healthcare professional to directly visualize and assess the knee joint.

How is Runner’s Knee Treated?

The treatment of runner’s knee is fairly simple. The first thing a doctor will do is make sure you don’t have any other injuries that may be contributing to your condition. 

If they determine there are no additional issues, they will likely recommend rest and ice.

Physical therapy can also be helpful as it provides patients with strengthening exercises that help relieve pain and prevent future problems with the area.

If these treatments don’t work, doctors might prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections in order to reduce swelling around the kneecap. Surgery may be necessary for those who fail to respond to other methods of treatment.

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What About Surgery for Runner’s Knee?

Have you been to see a doctor about your runner’s knee, only to be told that surgery is the only option? If so, it can be nerve-wracking. 

While surgery is an option for some people with knee pain resulting from patellofemoral syndrome or chondromalacia patella and has been shown to give them sustained relief there are some important things to keep in mind before going under the knife.

First and foremost, ask yourself if you’re truly ready for this kind of invasive procedure. Surgery for runner’s knee isn’t necessarily a cure; more often than not it simply helps people manage their symptoms and live with their condition more comfortably. 

So before opting for such extensive measures, consider alternative treatments that don’t involve cutting into your body things like physical therapy or even just time off from running (which may be enough on its own).

If you decide surgery is right for you, talk with your doctor about what kind of operation they recommend: some options include arthroscopy (where doctors insert tiny cameras into the joint) or open surgery (where they make larger incisions). 

Other factors that might influence his/her recommendation include whether there’s any cartilage damage present; how much bone laxity there is in the area which affects how easy it would be to perform certain procedures; whether other parts of your body have been affected by arthritis; etc…

It’s also important to note that recovery times vary significantly depending on which type was performed and how complicated it was; generally speaking though an average person could expect around six weeks’ worth of downtime following either type.”

Are There Doctor-Recommended Exercises to Prevent or Treat Runner’s Knee?

You can get a lot of benefit from exercises that strengthen your muscles, especially the ones around your hips and thighs. These include:

Physical therapy. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help identify and treat the underlying cause of runner’s knee. The treatment will likely focus on stretching, strengthening exercises, core strengthening, or all three.

Stretching exercises for runner’s knee: You can try these stretches on a regular basis to help relieve pain and improve flexibility in your hamstrings and calves:

Standing hamstring stretch (for runners who have healthy legs): Stand with one foot slightly ahead of the other so they’re parallel to each other, toes pointing forward or slightly turned out; lean forward until you feel tension in the back of your thigh (this should be an easy stretch). 

Hold for 30 seconds at first; hold longer if it feels comfortable. Repeat once after every few minutes while doing light walking around during exercise breaks to maintain flexibility throughout training sessions — but don’t do this particular stretch right before running as it may make tightness worse instead!

Seated calf stretch (for runners who have healthy legs): Sit down on floor with feet flat on floor about shoulder-width apart; bring soles together so knees are bent at 90° angles then lean forward toward ankles until you feel tension in lower leg muscles near ankles (this should be easy). Hold for 30 seconds at first; hold longer if it feels comfortable

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Can Regular Walking Help with Pain From Runner’s Knee?

So what is the best way to keep runner’s knee in check? The best medicine for those suffering from runner’s knee is a combination of rest and exercise. 

Your doctor may recommend you take time off from running or hiking, but other activities are great for strengthening the muscles around your knee, improving balance and coordination, improving cardiovascular health, and losing weight. Walking is one of the best ways to do all of these things because it requires no special equipment or training – just lace up some comfortable shoes and get moving!

If you’re new to walking as an exercise routine for your knees, start slow by walking for about 20 minutes at a time. 

Gradually increase this over several weeks until you can comfortably walk 30-40 minutes per day on most days of the week. 

If this feels like too much on some days (especially if you have severe pain), stick with shorter walks throughout the day instead of trying to hit a specific target number every time.

Impact on Runner’s Knee PainRegular Walking
Pain ReliefMild to Moderate
Impact on Joint StressLow
Muscular StrengtheningModerate
Improvement in Range of MotionMild
Overall ImpactCan help alleviate pain and provide low-impact exercise for recovery and maintenance.

What Kind of Footwear Should You Wear if You’re Trying to Prevent or Treat

When it comes to preventing or treating runner’s knee, footwear is important.

Running shoes are designed for running, but hiking boots are also made for a lot of walking which means they can be good for runners. 

If you’re doing a lot of trail running, get shoes that have plenty of cushioning and support in the forefoot region (underneath your toes). 

This will help reduce shock from impacts with the ground. You’ll want shoes with a wide toe box—those slim cuts can cause stress on your knees because they don’t give enough room for natural motion.

When you’re looking at hiking boots, think about where you plan on taking them: if you’re going on short hikes around town then something lightweight may suffice; if you plan on going longer distances then invest in heavier-duty gear that will stand up to more wear and tear over time.

What Side Effects Can You Expect From Corticosteroid Injections for Treatment of Runner’s Knee?

If you’ve had corticosteroid injections, you may experience some side effects. Some of these include:

  • Swelling and pain at the injection site
  • Redness or warmth around the injection site
  • Increased bruising (because of bleeding) at the injection site

Corticosteroid injections may cause other side effects as well. These are usually mild and temporary. 

However, talk to your doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms after a corticosteroid injection. The most common ones are:

  • Headache
  • Fever

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Will Wearing a Patella Strap Reduce Pain From Runner’s Knee When Hiking?

Patella straps are great at reducing the pain of runner’s knee and other knee problems, but you can also wear them when hiking. 

If you have runner’s knee or osteoarthritis in your knees, consider wearing a patella strap to help reduce pain during your next hike.


By now, you may have a better understanding of whether hiking could cause runner’s knee. It’s not entirely clear if it does or not, but there are certain precautions you can take to prevent this condition from developing. 

If you’re worried about your own risk for getting the injury, talk to your doctor or physical therapist so they can assess your situation and recommend exercises or treatments specific to your needs.

Further Reading

  • Hiking for Her: Knee Injury Prevention
    Learn about effective strategies for preventing knee injuries while hiking, including strengthening exercises and proper footwear choices.
  • Hikers Daily: Hiking with Runner’s Knee
    Discover tips and techniques for managing and hiking with runner’s knee, including stretches, pain management, and hiking modifications.
  • Healthline: Runner’s Knee
    Gain a deeper understanding of runner’s knee, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, to help you make informed decisions about managing this condition.

Please note that the descriptions provided are brief and can be expanded based on the actual content of the respective URLs.

And here’s the FAQs section with five questions and answers:


What is runner’s knee?

Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a common knee condition that causes pain around the kneecap. It is often associated with activities that involve repetitive knee bending, such as running or hiking.

Can you develop runner’s knee from hiking?

While runner’s knee is more commonly associated with running, it is possible to develop it from hiking. The repetitive stress and strain on the knee joints during prolonged hikes can contribute to the development of runner’s knee.

What are the symptoms of runner’s knee?

The symptoms of runner’s knee include pain around or behind the kneecap, particularly when bending the knee, climbing stairs, or walking downhill. Some people may also experience swelling, popping or grinding sensations, and discomfort after prolonged activity.

How can I prevent runner’s knee while hiking?

To prevent runner’s knee while hiking, it is important to strengthen the muscles around the knees, maintain proper form and technique, wear appropriate footwear, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your hikes. Using trekking poles can also help distribute the load and reduce strain on the knees.

When should I seek medical attention for runner’s knee?

If you experience persistent or worsening pain, swelling, or difficulty performing daily activities due to runner’s knee, it is advisable to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options based on your specific condition.