My Knee Locks When I Run: 5 Tips for Unlocking Your Knee
Sometimes runners feel the dreaded knee pain or a locked up knee. That is a very uncomfortable and scary position to be in.
We get it.
All of us on the RunnerClick staff are avid runners.
The last thing you want is to be sidelined by knee joint pain.
Why Does My Knee Lock?
If you find your knee locking up, you probably wonder why it is happening. Because of repeated use, knees are very prone to problems from overuse. But did you know there are two types of locked knee? The two types are pseudo and true locked knee.
In the pseudo-locked knee, severe pain triggers the knee to have spasms. This then causes the knee to lock up as a defense mechanism. The human body knows how to protect itself from pain, and it does exactly that. In the pseudo-locked knee, you could move your knee because it’s just a locking sensation rather than the knee being locked.
If your knee is truly locked, something physically prevents it from straightening.
Common causes of a locked knee are:
- Knee Injury: If you have some type of trauma that physically damages the knee, it could lock on you.
- Inflammation: Many things can cause inflammation in the knee, resulting in it locking up. This can include injury or knee arthritis/osteoarthritis.
- Meniscus Damage: There can be a piece of cartilage damage or a meniscal tear that causes pain or a locked knee.
- Degenerative Changes: The aging process, in addition to running wear and tear, can cause knee pain.
- Patellar Dislocation: Injury can cause your knee cap (patella) to move out of place, resulting in a locked knee.
- Loose Bodies in the Knee: Those who have taken a fall can have loose “things” in the knee, such as a bone fragment, that causes problems.
- Gout: That culprit gout can cause some people’s knees to lock.
Is Knee Locking Serious?
Those who find themselves wondering, “Why does my knee lock?” often have a second question, “Is it serious?”
The answer is maybe.
If your knee is pseudo-locking, you might fix your problem with just a bit of ice and time off your feet.
However, some other problems are more serious and absolutely require a physician’s attention.
However, it is not typically an issue you need immediate medical attention for.
Can You Walk on a Locked Knee?
Most people can walk on a locked knee. In fact, unless you have a torn meniscus, you can usually keep hobbling around. Even some meniscus tears do not render the person unable to move around. It really does depend on the person.
If you are in the middle of a walk or run and it locks, you are best off not trying to just power through.
Just get yourself home, find an ice pack and get off your feet sooner rather than later.
5 Tips for Unlocking Your Knee
- If your knee pain causes your knee to lock, the first order of business is controlling the pain. You can do that with an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen or a pain reliever.
- Another thing to try is ice, elevation, and keeping off it for a bit.
- Some people may find relief from physical therapy. Some things can be done to help get things back on track.
- A doctor can try a cortisone shot to unlock the knee, which is an anti-inflammatory treatment option injected right at the point of the problem.
- Sometimes, however, the only option is knee surgery.
How Do I Prevent My Knee from Locking?
When you are having difficulties with your knee, the best thing you can do is avoid certain types of activities. These include activities that stress the knee, such as jumping or running.
You should also avoid exercises that put pressure on the knees. Things like box jumps, certain HIIT moves, and exercises like that should not be in your workout regiment.
8 Tutorials and Ways to Stretch and Strengthen a Knee
Once you “unlock” that knee, you will benefit from regularly doing knee stretches. There are many great ones to choose from.
Please note that some of the exercises do not appear to benefit your knee; however, it is all interconnected. Trust us on this.
Check out these videos to help you work through the various stretches and exercises.
- Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch
- Standing Hamstring Stretch
- Figure Four Stretch
- Half Squat
- Calf Raises
- Hamstring Curl
- Prone Leg Raises
- Side Leg Raises
How to Prevent a Locked Knee
So the long and short of it is that you want to take care of those knees. Working on stretching and building strength are two powerful tools to help keep those knees happy and healthy.
If you experience locked knees, you may be able to use these tips to get through, and you might also need to seek medical advice and take pain medication.
Remember that we like to remind you that prevention is a way better option than cure. Stay healthy.
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