Q+A: A road camber is giving me knee pain… Help!

Q I used to train on grass and gravel, but since I’ve started running on the edge of the road I’ve noticed that the knee closest to the road as I run becomes sore. I can run through it, but afterwards I’m left with a dull ache in the knee, which becomes really painful when I undertake activities that involve turning or sideways movements. I’ve set my sights on a half-marathon later this year, and I’m worried that several weeks off will put me back to square one.

A Most roads have a camber, which effectively makes the leg nearest to the middle of the road ‘longer’. The body naturally compensates for this by trying to shorten the leg to reduce the pressure on your body, in particular your back. In your case the compensation seems to be at the knee, which is bending to shorten the leg, and at the same time your foot will also flatten more than usual. As the knee bends more, it also tends to rotate inwards. This puts pressure on the medial ligament on the inside of the knee, which can become damaged. The problem is further compounded by the fact that this ligament attaches to the cartilage (or meniscus) on the inside of the knee, and when damaged can increase the pressure on the cartilage. The group of tendons on the inside of the knee will also become overloaded, and will become inflamed and tender.

The best way to manage this on your own is to avoid running consistently on a camber and revert to your original type of terrain. As for treatment, ice and massage will help with the aching symptoms. Of course, if this proves to be unsatisfactory, you’ll need to see a specialist physiotherapist in running injuries.

Martin Haines, chartered physiotherapist and sports-injury specialist