Runners Knee

Runners Knee – How to fix or even avoid by Kevin J. Smith

As many runners or walkers increase their mileage after a period of inactivity or starting a new program, injuries start to pop up.  Runners Knee, one of the more common injuries is defined as a softening or wearing away and cracking of the cartilage under the kneecap, resulting in pain and inflammation. The cartilage becomes like sandpaper because the kneecap is not riding smoothly over the knee.  I have felt this sensation as my wife suffered from runners knee for a while and you can actually even hear it as the knee is bent.


- Overpronation (feet rotate too far inward on impact) – can cause the kneecap to twist sideways

- Fatigued or weak quadriceps muscle. The quadriceps muscle assists in the proper tracking of the kneecap

- Weakness, especially of the inside part of the quadriceps, can prevent the kneecap from tracking smoothly

- Muscle imbalance – between weak quadriceps and tight hamstring and iliotibial band (ITB), muscles can also affect proper tracking

- Hill running (especially down hills) and running on cambered (angled surfaces such as the side of the road); and finally overtraining.

Self-treatment according to David Jenkinson, D.O.: #1 course of action is to stop running

Take a course (5 – 7 days) of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen available from your general practitioner or pharmacist.  Apply ice to the knee – for 10 minutes every 2 hours, in order to reduce the inflammation.  Avoid weight-bearing activities and keep foot elevated where possible  Strengthen the quadriceps muscle only when pain-free.

Exercises include:

1) Place pillow under knee, tighten quadriceps, push knee down into pillow and lift foot up.20 times

2) Repeat exercise as above with foot turned out in order to strengthen the inside of the quadriceps muscle. Repeat ×20.

Stretching – of the quadriceps, hamstring, iliotibial band (ITB) and gluteal muscles return to running gradually.  Full recovery is usually between four to six weeks.

Medical treatment:   If injury doesn’t respond to self-treatment in two weeks, see a physiotherapist or orthopedic surgeon, orthotist or podiatrist for custom-made orthotics to control overpronation or, an orthopedic surgeon – surgery to scrape away rough edges of cartilage may alleviate some pain.   Cortisone injections are ineffective

Preventative measures:  Stretching of the quadriceps, hamstring, iliotibial band (ITB), and gluteal muscles. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, relax slowly. Repeat stretches 2 – 3 times per day. Remember to stretch well before and after running, strengthening of quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles, correct shoes, specifically stability or motion-control shoes and orthotics to correct overpronation.  The staff at Elite Runners & Walkers can help with a biomechanical assessment of and selection of the best shoe for you.

The information contained here is merely that, informational. Elite Runners & Walkers makes no guarantees as to the effectiveness of the treatments stated above. They advise you to seek treatment by a medical professional to truly diagnosis and/or treat any injury or condition.

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