Runner’s Knee: Treatment and Prevention

If you are a runner, you may hear people talking about how running is bad for your knees. The topic of “runner’s knee” is cropping up more and more often.

There is little evidence that runners are at more risk of deteriorating knee health in comparison to their sedentary counterparts.  However, the fact remains that runners do experience knee pain from time to time.

Anna Weber, an elite runner and Olympic trials qualifier, gives us some facts on runner’s knee and tips on prevention.

What is Runner’s Knee?

Runner’s knee is a general term for knee pain that regular runners experience within the patella (knee cap) region.

There are many causes of runner’s knee. These include:

  • Muscle imbalances (i.e. weak quadriceps or weak hips),
  • Overuse (running too many miles on unforgiving surfaces),
  • Tightness in the illiotibial (IT) band,
  • Biomechanical or structural issues (i.e. wide hips, which result in the angling of the femur towards the knee, placing undue stress on the kneecap).

The Symptoms of Runner’s Knee

Runner's Knee, linked fitnessPeople experiencing runner’s knee can feel pain at different times. They may also experience a variety of types of pain in the patella region.

For some runners, the pain only occurs when running, but for others, it is present even when not running.

Some people experience a dull, chronic ache but it can also present as a sharp pain that emanates from the center of the knee.

Additionally, you may feel the pain behind the knee, or on the front of the kneecap.

Another common symptom is for runners to experience weakness. They may feel as though the knee is going to “give out” while running or walking.

How Can I Treat Runner’s Knee?

The most common way to treat runner’s knee is to cut back on mileage while strengthening weak areas that most commonly contribute towards knee pain.

Strengthening of calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hips are recommended, as well as frequent foam rolling of the IT band.

Each of these regions places force on the patella in order to hold it in its proper location on the knee.

When one area is tight or weak, the patella is pulled into an unnatural position. This results in pain and is why limiting the stress (by not running) and realigning the kneecap (by strengthening) is necessary.

A runner should also evaluate whether they are due for new running shoes. A worn out pair can exacerbate pain.

How do I Prevent Runner’s Knee?

Runner's Knee - Linked Fitness Community Article - Anna Weber - AuthorOne of the best ways to prevent runner’s knee is to incorporate regular strength training and core into weekly workout routines.

Runners who are prone to knee pain should focus on strengthening hamstrings and quads by performing exercises such as squats, Russian dead lifts, and hip bridge holds.

When weight lifting, runners should use low weight but high repetitions (i.e. 3 sets of 12 reps).

Hip exercises that are beneficial include donkey kicks, fire hydrants, and side plank leg lifts.

Keeping IT bands free of tension is also important, and runners should regularly foam roll the outside region of their thighs, from knee to hip bone.

Other preventative measures include running on soft surfaces and ensuring your running shoes are appropriate for your biomechanics

About the Author

Anna Weber - Linked Fitness Community Author Runner's Knee

Anna Weber is an elite runner from Indianapolis, USA.

In July 2015 she made the brave decision to put her PhD in Analytical Chemistry on hold so that she could follow her true passion – running.

Since then she has worked harder than ever before and in October 2015 she qualified for the Olympic Trials at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in a time of 2:38:39.

Anna’s huge success has been recognized by the running apparel company Oiselle. Their mission is to provide inspiration and support to women of all running levels. Oiselle have made Anna a member of their Haute Volée team which is their Elite Team.

To find out more about Anna Weber, you can visit her blog and her website

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