Knee Pain: Understanding and Overcoming Runner’s Knee

on February 19 | in Uncategorized | by | with No Comments

Runner’s knee, medically known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a common overuse injury that affects many runners and athletes. Characterized by pain around or behind the kneecap, runner’s knee can be frustrating and debilitating, often disrupting training routines and hindering performance.

Causes of Runner’s Knee:

Runner’s knee typically develops due to repetitive stress on the knee joint, leading to irritation of the patellofemoral joint and  tissues surrounding the patella. Several factors contribute to its onset, including:

  • Training overload: Sudden increases in training load and resuming usual training load after an extended break can strain the knee joint and surrounding structures.
  • Muscle Imbalances: Weakness or tightness in the muscles of the hips, thighs, or calves can alter the mechanics of the knee, leading to abnormal patellar tracking.
  • Poor Biomechanics: Issues such as flat feet or misalignment of the leg bones can place additional stress on the knee joint.
  • Improper Footwear: Worn-out or ill-fitting running shoes can fail to provide adequate support and cushioning, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Training Errors: Incorrect running technique, running on uneven surfaces, or neglecting proper warm-up and cool-down routines can contribute to the development of runner’s knee.

Symptoms of Runner’s Knee:

The primary symptom of runner’s knee is pain around or behind the kneecap, which may worsen with activities such as running, climbing stairs, or squatting. Other symptoms may include;

  • Crepitus, or a grinding sensation, when bending or straightening the knee.
  • Stiffness or weakness in the knee.
  • Pain that worsens after periods of inactivity, such as sitting for long periods.

Prevention Strategies:

Preventing runner’s knee involves adopting practices that reduce stress on the knee joint and promote optimal biomechanics. Here are some preventive measures for runners:

  • Gradual Training load increase: Gradually increase mileage and intensity to allow your body to adapt to the demands of running.
  • Strength Training: Incorporate exercises that target the muscles of the hips, thighs, and calves to improve stability and support around the knee joint.
  • Proper Footwear: Invest in high-quality running shoes that provide adequate cushioning, support, and stability for your foot type and running style.
  • Cross-Training: Include low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, or strength training to reduce repetitive stress on the knees.
  • Stretching and Mobility: Perform dynamic warm-up exercises before running and static stretches after to improve flexibility and range of motion.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain and adjust your training accordingly to prevent overuse injuries. 

How Physio can help?

Physiotherapy can be highly beneficial in managing and treating runner’s knee. Here’s how we can help:

  • Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: We will assess strength and flexibility in your legs and core. If we find you are lacking strength and flexibility in certain areas we then have ways to work out whether these impairments are related to your pain and prescribe exercises specifically for you.
  • Biomechanical Analysis: If we believe your running form is related to your pain we will assess your running gait and biomechanics to help identify any issues that may be contributing to the runner’s knee. We can provide guidance on proper running techniques, footwear selection, and orthotic devices to help correct any biomechanical abnormalities and reduce stress on the knee joint.
  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques such as massage and joint mobilization can help reduce muscle tightness, improve joint mobility, and enhance circulation in the affected area.
  • Load management advice: We will often provide advice on how to effectively manage your running loading advice to help you recover and also reduce risk of recurrence
  • Taping: In some cases, we may recommend taping techniques to provide additional support and stability to the knee joint during physical activity.
  •  Functional Training: Towards the later stages of rehab we will often include functional training exercises that mimic movements relevant to running and other activities to improve overall strength, stability, and coordination, ultimately enhancing your performance and reducing the risk of reinjury.

Overall, physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the comprehensive management of runner’s knee by addressing pain, improving biomechanics, strengthening muscles, and facilitating a safe return to activity. If you think you have Runner’s knee visit us at Physio on Alice in Newtown for a comprehensive assessment and treatment.  

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