Runner’s Knee

Apr 21, 2023 | Blogs & News

Myth Buster – Runner’s knee is not just a runner’s injury

It isn’t really a specific injury. Runner’s knee is a broad term used to describe the pain you feel if you have one of several anterior knee problems- it’s often called patellofemoral pain

Several things can bring it on:

  • Overuse. Bending your knee again and again or doing a lot of high-stress exercises, like lunges and plyometrics (training that uses the way your muscles lengthen and shorten to boost their power), can irritate tissues in and around your kneecap.
  • A direct hit to the knee, like from a fall or blow
  • Altered biomechanics. If the alignment of the bones from your hips to your ankles is affected this can put too much pressure on certain areas rather than an even load through these structures.
  • Problems with your feet. Hypermobility in the feet (when the joints in and around them move more than they should), fallen arches (flat feet), or overpronation (which means your foot rolls down and inward when you step). These often change the way you walk, which can lead to knee pain.
  • Weak or unbalanced thigh muscles.  This reduces the muscles’ ability to hold the kneecap in the correct position to allow it to move smoothly in the patella groove. If it doesn’t track correctly this can cause irritation under the kneecap causing pain at the front of your knee
  • Chondromalacia patella, a condition in which the cartilage under your kneecap softens and can break down

What Are the Symptoms?

The main thing is pain. You might notice it:

  • Usually in front of your kneecap, though it could be around or behind it
  • When you bend your knee to walk, squat, kneel, run, or even get up from a chair
  • Getting worse when you walk downstairs or downhill

The area around your knee could swell, or you might hear popping or have a grinding feeling in the knee.

How Is It Diagnosed?

A Physio will work through an assessment to establish the history first, a physical examination will help establish the reasons for the pain and a plan of action will be formed to explain your pain, plan how to get rid of it and give you an estimated timeline for recovery.

How Is It Treated?

For most people, runner’s knee gets better with time and rehab to address the problem that has been causing the pain. To help relieve the pain and speed of recovery, you can:

  • Rest your knee. As much as possible, try to avoid things that make it hurt worse, like running, squatting, lunging, or sitting and standing for long periods of time.
  • Ice your knee to ease pain and swelling. Do it for 20 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days, or until the pain is gone.
  • Support your knee. Appropriate patellar straps on the advice of your physio can help reduce the pain.
  • Take anti inflammatories if needed, like ibuprofen or naproxen. These drugs help with pain and swelling but should only be taken with the approval of your medical professional.
  • Do stretching and strengthening exercises, especially for your quadriceps muscles. This is where your Physiotherapist can guide you through the most appropriate plan.
  • Try arch supports or orthotics for your shoes. They may help with the position of your feet. Physio Action can fit and supply these if this is seen to be a helpful adjunct to your treatment.

When Will My Knee Feel Better?

People heal at different rates. Your recovery time depends on your body and your injury. While you get better, you need to take it easy on your knee. That doesn’t mean you have to give up exercise. Just try something new that won’t hurt your joint. If you’re a jogger, swim laps in a pool instead.

Whatever you do, don’t rush things. If you try to get back to your workouts before you’re healed, you could damage the joint for good. Don’t return to your old level of physical activity until:

  • You can fully bend and straighten your knee without pain.
  • You feel no pain in your knee when you walk, jog, sprint, or jump.
  • Your knee is as strong as your uninjured knee.

How Can I Prevent Runner’s Knee?

  • Keep your thigh muscles strong with regular exercise.
  • Make sure your shoes have enough support.
  • Try not to run on hard surfaces, like concrete.
  • Warm up before you work out.
  • Don’t make sudden workout changes like adding squats or lunges. Add intense moves slowly.
  • Wear quality running shoes.
  • Get a new pair of running shoes once yours lose their shape or the sole becomes worn or irregular.
  • Seek the help of a Physiotherapist in Leeds or surrounding areas.