Began running regularly at 14 and had been injury free.  At 25, experienced a shooting pain in the outside/rear part of my left knee, about 4 miles into a run, in the area where the hamstring connects.  Has plagued me for 2 years which includes clean X-ray and MRI, 2 stints of physical therapy, extended breaks from running/cycling, regular massage therapy including rolling/icing everyday.  Injury recurs every time fatigue sets in during a run.  I've been told I may just have a taut left lateral hamstring and I'll deal with this my whole life.  Refuse to accept that.  Anyone ever experience a similar injury, or have any tips?

Desperate Bill

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I have a pinch in back of my knee right now, (left) and that same knee bugs me too. I think it was from an exercise ball workout that I did 2 months ago. The solution that I have in mind?? I'm going to switch to barefoot running and find a true minimalist shoe with zero drop in heal. Because these cushioned shoes do nothing for us.

Agreed. Thanks for the reply, Bobby. 

Not your exact issue, but pre-barefooting (actual barefoot combined with minimalist shoes, I run in Luna sandals) I had condramyalga (sp?) in both knees, often twisted ankles, wore orthopedics for PF and flat feet. I have none of those issues now and I run farther and faster than I did in marshmallow shoes. I highly recommend the switch.

That's great to know, thanks Patrick. I'm going to get into it slowly and comfortably.
Agree with other posts. Start slowly though. It's a long switch so forget about
Distances for a while. Start with some barefoot walking. Take the balance test and try improve balance with one leg stands whenever you can
I am up to 8 miles in vibrams and have started barefoot running aswell but reckon you should start barefoot and build up good technique.
Please note be careful with barefooting and doing too much too soon. As I write this I am sitting here with 5 big blood blisters on both feet. Why?? As I done too much too soon . Completing 8 miles in vibrams doesn't mean
You can do 5 barefoot -:) it's all about slowly and surely. I

First of all congrats on not accepting that your hamstring cannot be dealt with!

Sounds like a muscle issue and joint itself is ok, is that right?  If so a couple of tidbits I picked up from the Natural Running Center's "injury free running" booklet says that a chronic muscle issue like that is just as likely to result from diet/stress as it is from some sort of performance issue.  If you have a high stress life, eat a diet high in carbs/sugar, or do a significant amount of your runs in heart rate zone 4 or above it is possible that any one of these is the main culprit for your issue.

If you feel like the above items in your life are in good check than another seldom considered explanation for you issue could be from a previous should or upper arm injury on the opposite side of you body, doesn't really matter how long ago it happened either.  When the body heals and compensates for injury it can sometimes have interesting effects on the gait that are imperceptible to the individual, simple as that.  I am working thru a similar issue right now, although I don't have a previous should injury I have discovered that I have an equilibrium/proprioception issue that has lead to the left and right sides of my body doing slightly different things during a run which of course leads quickly to issues.  I spend about 90 min per day in the car for my commute and found that I sit somewhat cock-eyed in my driver's seat so that my elbows can rest on what's nearest during the drive.  10 years of this has thrown off how I perceive my centers.  If I stand "centered" and balanced and you took a picture it would be easy to see I am in fact leaning one way and one shoulder is higher than the other although to me I feel as centered and even as possible.  This was confirmed for me when I was on an elliptical trainer and noticed that my head was centered about 2 inches to one side and yet I felt balanced, if I forced my head to the center I found I was just about falling over to try and keep it there as I worked.  So I have been working thru this and making great progress!

And as others suggest below, weak feet and poor running technique (heel striking) also make running very hard on the body. 

If you wanted to read that Injury Free Running booklet I mentioned, which is one of my favorite resources just go to "" and you'll see it mentioned right on the home page.

Keep up the good work!

Thanks so much, Bryan.  As frustrating as it's been hearing the same cycle of explanations for 2 years, it's equally exciting to hear something brand new like this.  I strained my right rotator cuff in high school and never really took care of it.  It's possible I have perceived "centeredness" issues as well.  While riding my bike, if I look straight down, I can tell I'm not centered.  Seeing a chiropractor today who specializes in runners/triathletes.  We'll see if he picks up on anything.

Yeah, it could be then that you just have a hitch in your giddy-yup.  Let us know how the appt. goes.

Dear Bill,

I developed what sounds like a very similar injury over two years ago, but on the right side- where hamstring head attaches below the right knee. Inconclusive MRIs, xrays, CT scan, no improvement with cortisone, extended rest, dry needling... the list goes on.

Although the problem isn't completely resolved, I've found the most improvement through a combination of: yoga (lots of stretching of the hamstring and nerve that runs from lower back into lower leg), pilates (increasing pelvis stability to take pressure off the knee joint) and modifying my stride ( in line with Chi running technique- mid foot strike, shortening stride length), also exercises to increase flexibility in the tib/fib joint.

If you come across a solution or clear diagnosis- please let me know, as I share your frustration!

Best wishes, Kate


Thanks for the reply.  Our common frustration is strangely comforting...

Went to that chiropractor and he starting spewing curses at me like "pronation control", "corrective shoes", and "orthotics"...which was pretty demoralizing.

But, it inspired me to finally go all in on "barefooting".  I've been treadmill running in just my socks pretty consistently to prepare my feet/lower legs for the transition, and it feels great (though I get some weird looks at the gym).  Even my slight Achilles tightness dissipates...Buying some Five Fingers tomorrow.

Hi William,

I know what you mean- I couldn't believe it when I read your post and realized there was someone else out there sharing the same nightmare! Comforting to know we're not alone.

I had been in orthotics for 10 years when I took them out about 1 month ago and haven't had any negative results. Still running in neutral Brooks shoes, but barefoot for intervals on grass. Will probably eventually move to a more minimalist racing flat rather than the Five Fingers, but please let me know how you go.

Keep in touch,

well, if the left hamstring is taut/tight, you should probably do some stretching exercises for the hamstrings...i.e. the hamstring resistance band stretch, or do it with a fixed woven band, first with the opposite leg bent on the floor, then progressing to the non-stretching leg lengthened on the floor...and don't forget to breath whilst holding the stretch.  

do some squats in a full length mirror and see if your knees stays straight or move to either side.  also check to see if your feet move to either side.  with those results, you can tell what muscles might be weak, which ones might need strengthening or stretching.

how is your gluteal and core strength?

also, when you say pinch in the "back of the knee," do you mean centered in the crease behind the knee, or near the tendons on either side, or somewhere else?



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