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Runner’s Knee? How Physiotherapy Can Help!

August 18 | 2023
Posted by Sharon Tierney

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Runner's Knee

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain, is a common condition that often affects many individuals, especially of the active and athletic population. The knee pain can be minor to severe and may be felt during only certain activities such as sports, or with day-to-day tasks like climbing up and down stairs. In this blog, we will talk about the causes, symptoms and most importantly, how to treat this pain with physiotherapy.

Cause of Patellofemoral Pain

For most individuals, the pain is caused by a misalignment of the patella (knee cap) within the femur (thigh bone). Usually, the patella glides along the groove during movement of the knee but muscular imbalances around the knee or postural misalignment may contribute to improper tracking of the patella. Some of the most common causes of runner’s knee are:

  1. Improper training/running mechanics such as overpronation or rolling in of the feet can contribute to increased stress at the knee joint
  2. Overuse or overtraining can overload the knee joint if there is not sufficient rest or recovery.
  3. Muscular imbalances, especially of the quadriceps and hip muscles
  4. Sudden increase in activity/unaccustomed activity
  5. Biomechanical issues such as misalignment of the kneecap, leg length discrepancies, foot posture etc.

Recognizing the Symptoms

  1. Dull aching pain around or behind the knee cap
  2. Pain is worse squatting, walking downstairs, or after sitting for long periods of time
  3. Swelling around the kneecap
  4. Popping or clicking of the knee, especially with straightening the knee
  5. Discomfort or pain after high intensity physical activities such as running
  6. Recent increase in intensity or change in training program

Physiotherapy for Runner’s Knee

Physiotherapy for Runner's Knee

Physiotherapy for Runner’s Knee

Once in physiotherapy, your physiotherapist will conduct an assessment to determine the exact cause of your knee pain. Most likely, your assessment and treatment will include:

  • Tailored exercise plan focusing on the hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip muscles to help stabilize and strengthen the knee joint.
  • Stretching exercises for the tight muscles around the knee that may be contributing to increased strain and imbalance at the knee
  • Biomechanical analysis including watching you walk, move, and your posture to identify any abnormalities that may be increasing stress at the knee. Common postures associated with knee pain include pronated flat feet, or knees that fall in when you move.
  • Recommendation or prescription of orthotics and other footwear. These can help correct any postural abnormalities found in the above biomechanical analysis
  • Taping and bracing. This can help provide support to the knee to improve stability and alignment while the knee has time to heal.

How to avoid Runner’s Knee

  1. Gradually increase training load and intensity
  2. Incorporate cross training, and general strength and mobility training into your routine
  3. Take time to do a proper warm up and cool down
  4. Listen to your body, runner’s knee is usually a stress/overuse injury, so don’t push through the pain and take rests when you need it.
  5. Ensure that you have proper footwear for your activity

Runner’s knee can be a tricky problem to resolve, but with the support from a physiotherapist, your pain can go away! By taking care of the problem earlier on, you will experience less interruptions from your regular routine and can get back to doing what you love sooner. If you are experiencing runner’s knee or any sort of knee pain, PhysioNow has many qualified registered physiotherapists that would love to help you out. Book with PhysioNow today for your first assessment and treatment!

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