Running With Runners Knee: Symptoms, Exercises, & Treatment
Running injuries affect about half of all runners annually. But runners’ knee is different. Runners’ knee isn’t just for runners. Anyone can suffer from it.
What is the runner’s knee? It is a broad term that can be used to describe pain from several possible knee problems. Also, runners’ knee may be referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome by a physician or sports rehabilitation specialist.
- Overuse – High-stress exercises, such as lunges or plyometric training, can inflammation of tissues in and around your kneecap.
- A direct hit – If the knee has been struck, like from a fall or blow.
- Your bones aren’t correctly aligned – Also known as malalignment – this condition is caused when the bones from the hips to the ankles are out position (which can also include the kneecap itself), that and too much pressure or weight is placed in certain areas. If your kneecap doesn’t move correctly through its groove, this can cause grinding and lead to severe pain.
- Foot Problems – Hypermobile feet (when joints move more than they should), fallen arches (also known as flat feet), or over-pronation (when feet roll inward when walking) are all common foot problems. All of these conditions can change the way you walk and can cause knee pain.
- Unbalanced Thigh Muscles – If the large thigh muscles (the muscles that keep your kneecap in place) become weak or tight, your kneecap may not remain stationary.
- Chondromalacia Patella – A medical term for a condition where cartilage under the kneecap slowly degenerates.
What Are the Symptoms of Runners’ Knee?
The main symptoms are pain and swelling. You may have runners’ knee if:
- You feel pain around, behind or in front of your kneecap
- You feel pain when you bend your knee
- You feel pain when you walk, squat, kneel, run, or stand up
- You feel pain when you walk downhill or down a flight of stairs
Additional symptoms may include knee swelling, grinding, or popping.
Common Questions Regarding Runners’ Knee
Can I run with runner’s knee?
You can run with runners’ knee, but only if you don’t feel pain while running.
How long does runner’s knee last?
Some patients suffering from mild knee pain can improve in as little as two weeks. However, most patients take six weeks or longer to heal. In some sporadic cases, physical therapy isn’t effective at all.
How do I prevent runner’s knee?
Take these steps:
- Maintain limber and robust thigh muscles
- Use shoe inserts
- Make sure your arches have enough support
- Run on soft surfaces whenever possible
- Keep a healthy weight
- Warm-up before working out or running
- Keep squats or lunges to a minimum
- Ask your physician if you should see a physical therapist
- Use a knee brace if your doctor suggests doing so
- Wear new and quality running shoes
Common Runners’ Knee Treatment and Exercises
How to treat runner’s knee
Usually, runner’s knee will eventually go away on its own. The acronym RICE (which stands for rest, icing, compression, and elevation) should be used as a treatment. Special braces are also available.
Runners’ knee exercises and runners’ knee stretches
The following exercises and stretches should only be performed if you are pain-free and, preferably, with the aid of a physical therapist.
- Standing hamstring stretches
- Quadriceps stretches
- Side-lying leg lifts
- Quad sets
- Straight leg raises
- Clam exercise
- Wall squats with a ball
- Knee stabilizations
- Resisted terminal knee extensions
- Standing calf stretches
- Iliotibial band stretches
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