Why my knees hurt when I exercise : Main causes of knee pain

Why my knees hurt: Knee pain is more common than previously thought and may appear in different situations. One of them is when you exercise or do some sport. Obviously, feeling pain worries people because it is usual to be the expression that something is not right in the body. However, it does not always have to be this way because there may be other factors behind the inconvenience. In addition, in the case of knee pain when exercising, the causes are very specific. Some of them have an easy solution. If you have these discomforts, surely you have wondered at some point , why do my knees hurt when I exercise? 

Main causes of knee pain when exercising

When doing a physical activity, normally, the knees are one of the most affected parts of the body. Because they are key in the movement that is performed in each sport such as cycling, running, swimming or soccer, among many others. In this way, the knees are the ones that receive most of the impact that occurs with each movement. Being even greater depending on the intensity with which the physical exercise is performed.

However, every sport or physical exercise impacts the knee. There is nothing more to think about as simple and basic activities of everyday life as walking or climbing the stairs of work or home.

MAIN CAUSES – Why my knees hurt

In general, the main causes for which the knees hurt when doing physical exercise can be grouped into:

  • Mechanical overload: it is the one that many athletes or people who exercise with great intensity have. But, in general, it is also caused by a blow, sudden movement or a bad step, which causes a twist, a sprain or breakage. In addition, it is triggered by the wear of the different parts of the knee.
  • Over training: pain occurs because you exercise with intensity and also very often because you want to achieve the goal of losing weight or being fit in a short time or because the person has to prepare to pass physical tests of oppositions to , for example, entering police or fire departments, among others.
  • Injuries: any knee injury presents pain. The possibilities can be several and not all are equally serious, which causes continued discomfort, but that does not prevent walking or other movements. This makes many times think that there is no injury and do not go to the doctor, causing you to feel more and more pain and choose to go to the specialist. If in your case you have an injury in this part, we recommend you read this other article in which we explain what exercises you can do if you have a knee injury .
  • Bone problems: In many cases, knee pains are due to problems in the back, especially in the lower back and hip, which cause the person to tread badly, which causes pain in this area of ​​the Body. Sometimes, it can also be due to some malformation or problem in the foot or some specific diseases.
Why my knees hurt
Why my knees hurt when I exercise : Main causes of knee pain

Other causes of why the knees hurt when exercising

As we have commented previously, the injuries and ailments can be of different nature, presenting at the same time various levels of severity. And there are some that are mild and generate only discomfort, while others are more important and require that you even go through the operating room to solve the problem.

Thus, these are other possible causes of knee pain when doing sports , although:

  • Iliotibial band syndrome: it is caused by an overload and the overuse of soft tissue, which goes from the hip to the knee.
  • Runner’s knee: this medical condition is recognized because the pain felt is intense and is located in the area behind the knee and next to the kneecap.
  • Tendonitis: when there is tendinitis in the knee , pain is caused by inflammation of the tendons in this area, although it can also appear due to degeneration. In both cases, the knee may be affected.
  • Ligaments: any damage to the ligaments causes pain in the knee. This occurs in the case of the cruciate ligaments, as well as the external lateral or tibial.
  • Arthritis: inflammation of the joint also generates pain in the knees. In general, what causes more problems is the so-called osteoarthritis, which is characterized by damage to the tissue that covers the ends of the bones of the joint. When it appears, these bones begin to rub against each other, it is that friction that causes the pain.
  • Meniscus tear : it is a frequent knee injury. Sometimes, the meniscus rupture occurs in the same act, although in others pain is felt in the area until it breaks. This injury is important because it is common to have to go through the operating room.

Exercises and sports for which it is more common to have knee pain

Some ailments that we have mentioned appear due to wear or are associated with age, although they are not exclusive to older people. Knee pain can also influence the sport or physical activity that is performed. The reason is none other than there are practices with which the impact in this area of ​​the body is greater than in another.

In this way, it is convenient to know what sports they are because, if they have discomfort in the knees. It may be necessary to change physical activity to practice one with less impact or to monitor the movements that are done so that the pain does not appear. And, sometimes, there are people who do not practice sports or physical exercise well or do not use the appropriate materials, such as sports shoes themselves, which is very common in the case of running.

Probably, the problem may also be that the person does not warm up enough before starting to exercise or does not stretch enough later. Not performing both actions is a source of pain and musculo skeletal problems , which can affect the knee.


Assuming that everything is done well, it is convenient to know the sports that have the greatest impact on the knees. In general, they are those in which there is change of pace in the activity, weight is lifted, skips … Among them are:

  • Running
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Ski
  • Snowboard
  • Crossfit
  • Step

Whether you practice any of them or any other physical activity, it is always advisable to consult with the doctor. Rule out serious illnesses or injuries, in addition to indicating the guidelines you can follow to avoid this pain.

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