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Runner's Knee

What is it?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, more commonly known as “Runner’s Knee” earned its nickname because it is an aliment commonly associated with runners. It often occurs as runners increase their milage to about forty miles a week for the fist time (Cool Running). Many athletes can relate to the struggle of taking a few days off only for the pain to come right back, sometimes with a vengeance. There is not one sole cause of Runner’s Knee, which makes the injury a difficult one to deal with and prevent. The first step to identifying if you have Runner’s Knee is knowing how it started and what it feels like.

What causes the onset of Runner’s Knee?

Runner’s Knee is a loose term for a variety of disorders that cause pain in the knee. Runner’s Knee is primarily an overuse injury cause from the repeated bending of the knee. This repetition can aggregate the nerves surrounding the kneecap causing overuse, or the common phrase of doing “too much too soon”. Another disorder causing Runner’s Knee is the misalignment of the patella. Individuals who are overweight bear more weight on their knee joints than other parts of their body. This extra strain causes trauma to the knee. However, it is not all your knee’s fault. Runner’s Knee can be caused from fallen arches or overpronation in the foot. Knee pain also stems from weak quadricep muscles paired with tight hamstrings. This imbalance pulls the knee cap out of proper alignment because the quadriceps cannot support the patella. All these factors can contribute to Runner’s Knee.

What are the symptoms?

Runner’s Knee is described as pain behind and around the kneecap. Pain occurs when the knee is bent, especially during bouts of walking, running but also while squatting and even sitting. The pain is worsened when walking downstairs or downhill. Another symptom of Runner’s Knee is swelling paired with a popping sensation in the knee. Sometimes the pain is bearable and may even subside during exercise, but then will feel worse and more painful after exercise.

What is the remedy?

Lucky enough, Runner’s Knee is easy to treat. The hardest part is practicing patience. Rest is most important. In addition, make an effort to ice the knee every 3-4 hours for 20-30 minutes until the pain is gone. Next, compress the knee by wrapping the knee for extra support with an ace bandage. Elevate the knee when you are sitting and lying down. This paired with taking anti-inflammatory drugs will help with swelling. Lastly, adding orthotics into your shoes to correct flat feet will help with Runner’s Knee. To prevent Runner’s Knee, avoid increasing milage abruptly and running on hard surfaces such as concrete. Physical Therapy is an even greater option. Physical Therapists will work to loosen the hamstrings and other tight muscles that might be pulling on the patella and causing pain. They will also assign exercises to work on strengthening the weaker muscles in order to correct the imbalance. It is also important to stay at a healthy body weight and to discard running shoes once they lose the grip on the bottom and the sole becomes irregular.

Keep in mind that it is necessary to listen to your body. A few extra miles one day won’t make a difference in the long run if you are unable to run for the next two or more weeks. Runner’s Knee is a very common injury and is easy to recover from if treated properly.


“Runner’s Knee: Symptoms, Pain, Causes, and Treatment.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.

“Runner’s Knee.” Runner’s World & Running Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.

“Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain)-OrthoInfo – AAOS.” Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain)-OrthoInfo – AAOS. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.

“The Runner’s Knee Diagnostic Stand-Off.” SaveYourselfca RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.

“Knee Pain from RunningKnee Injuries Are Neither Inevitable nor Debilitating for Runners. In Fact, Most Knee Pain from Running Is Easily Corrected If Properly Managed.” N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.


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