Runner’s Injury Series : Runner’s Knee
Runners take on all different shapes, sizes, interests and even training schedules. Some runners never run more than a 5k, others love a good marathon at 26.2 miles and then there are those that tackle ultra-distances, but there is one thing all runners have in common, injuries. From new runners to seasoned runners, long-distance runners to sprinters, all runners will experience some kind of injury at some point in their runner’s journey. Over the next few weeks, we will cover some of the most common injuries we see and what you can do to keep them at bay. Be sure to follow us here at OrthoEast.com or on Facebook to learn more.
Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee is so common among runners it was actually named after them! In simple terms, the patella (kneecap) does not track properly and causes irritation to the cartilage just under the patella. This can cause mild to moderate pain under the kneecap during a long run, after sitting for long periods of time or while descending hills or stairs.
Causes and Risk Factors
Typically, poor form, caused by unaddressed biomechanical flaws or weak quads or hips, is the main contributor to this common injury. Oftentimes, though, it can be exasperated by running on the same side of the road (the bank of the road causes you to run at a slight slant with more weight on one side), or if you run a course with a steep decline.
What To Do If You Have Runner’s Knee
Pay attention to your pain and take some extra rest days here and there and reduce your mileage as needed. Sometimes running uphill is helpful to relieve impact on your knees. If you don’t want to skip too many runs, try running on a treadmill at an incline to get some miles in without pain and avoid any runs that follow a downhill course until knee pain has subsided. Depending on your foot arch and natural gait, you may need a different type of shoe. You can typically go to any local running store and ask for a gait analysis. This will help determine the type of shoe you will need to avoid injury. Sometimes this means spending a little extra money on the right shoe, but it will be worth every penny if you are able to run injury-free.
It’s important to strengthen weak hip and glute muscles to fix any biomechanical weaknesses and, again, check to make sure you are running in the proper shoe. Using an anti-inflammatory in combination with icing your knee after each run or activity can help speed up recovery and reduce any immediate pain. When you do hit the road again, make a conscious effort to shorten your stride so that your foot strikes the ground directly underneath you as opposed to a little in front. This reduces impact and improves your biomechanics. You can also purchase a band that is worn under the knee to help your kneecap track properly and avoid any further damage to the cartilage.
Should your symptoms worsen, please don’t be afraid to give us a call at 252.757.2663 to schedule an appointment. We can make sure that your diagnosis is correct and that you are following the proper exercises for a full recovery. We have a wide range of rehabilitation services to get you back on the road and back to the things you love to do most.