How Is Runner’s Knee Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider can diagnose runner’s knee by looking at your health history and doing a physical exam. X-rays may be needed for evaluation of the knee.
While active men and women may be equally likely to get hurt, some sports injuries affect women more often or in different ways. This guide explains the biggest risks active women face and how you can run, play or work out smarter to prevent injury.
Stretches That Help Runners Knee
In many cases, patellofemoral pain syndrome originates from tissues that are too tight. As a result, these tissues will alter the mechanics of your knee joint and produce pain and swelling. Here are few stretches that can help you reduce your pain:
Iliotibial Band Foam Roll
- Lay on your side and place the foam roll under the bottom leg
- Start with the foam roll near your knee
- Slowly move your body down towards the foam roll using your arms and leg
- Slowly roll up and down the band until you start to sense of release in tension
- Stand with one hand on the wall for balance
- Lift your ankle up towards your buttock and grab your ankle
- Pull your ankle upwards until a stretch is felt along the front of the thigh
- Hold until you begin to sense a release in tension
- Sit on a chair with one foot forward and one foot back
- Straighten your back and bend through your hips
- Continue until you start to sense a stretch along the back of the leg that is further forward
- Hold until you begin to sense a release in tension
- Stand in a lunge position with both hands on the wall
- Keep the back heel against the floor and lunge forward
- Continue until a stretch is felt in the calf region of the back leg
- Hold until you begin to sense a release in tension
Single Leg Mini Squat For Runners Knee
So its all well and good working on quads mobility and engagement of key muscle groups such as those glutes.
But one vital piece in the knee rehab puzzle is teaching your body to improve control of the knee dynamically when standing on one leg, just as we would be when running. This simple knee strengthening exercise achieves just that.
More on knee stability exercises here:
Standing on one leg on a raised platform, first reach forwards with the swinging leg and touch your heel on the ground in front of you, then slowly reach back and touch your toe on the ground behind you.
This movement of once back and forth constitutes one repetition. You should be aiming to perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each side.
The key here is balance and control. Youll be working hard around the hip and ankle to provide stability for the knee. Many runners will feel the knee drifting inwards towards the typical knock-kneed position. We want to avoid this!
You may well find it helpful to perform this exercise in front of a mirror to monitor the position of your knee throughout the movement.
I hope youve found these runners knee exercises helpful. Give them a go at home, and remember if it hurts stop and get it looked at!
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Side Steps With Band Around Forefoot
Get set up standing with a band positioned around the front of your feet. Assume a mini squat position, keep your feet facing at least 12 oclock if not slightly turned out, and side step. Be sure to have optimal foot/ankle position and maintain arch height throughout this exercise.
Begin in a side-lying position with your knees bent on top of one another. Distribute your weight onto your knee and forearm facing the floor. While keeping your feet and knees on the floor, side bridge up by pushing your bottom knee into the floor to lift your pelvis up and forward. Hold this position for a moment, then slowly lower down and repeat. When you are elevated your bottom knee, hip, and shoulder should all be in one line
This is one of our favorite strengthening and stability exercises that will focus on eccentric control and can also help with patellar tracking issues. Stand on the edge of a box/step and balance with all of your weight on the leg you want to exercise. The other leg will be hovering off the edge of the step. Slowly lower your hips, lightly tap the ground with your leg that is in the air, and then come back up.
Lunges are another great exercise to help improve lower extremity strength. Listen to our Rehab Audio Experience where we discuss lunge variations!
Custom Orthotics Can Fix Runners Knee
Custom orthotics can be an effective treatment to fix Runners Knee. To be effective, they must fit into your shoes, be comfortable and have a flexible, supportive arch as part of the custom orthotic design. Proper height, density and flexibility of the custom orthotic is critical to it being effective. If you have custom orthotics that are uncomfortable, do not fit into your shoes or aggravate your feet or your Runners Knee you will be unable to heal. If you have an uncomfortable or ineffective pair of custom orthotics they may be able to be modified for a fraction of the cost compared to buying new custom orthotics.
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How To Fix Runners Knee
The pain with runners knee is accompanied with a slow or dull, achy pain that is exacerbated by performing the activities I mentioned earlier. So, avoid them until your knee is pain-free or stronger.
A great rule of thumb is if your knee is still painful when performing activities and the following remedies have not helped by day 3 or after 48 hours call your Physician/Provider.
P- prevent and protect
When putting ice on your knee, you want to make sure you use a towel or barrier between the ice and your skin to decrease the chances of skin irritation. Wearing an elastic compress may help with decreasing swelling and you can also try a knee sleeve. The knee sleeve will help with compression and add stability.
Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help with pain and/or swelling. To continue being active while you are resting your knee try biking or indoor cycling, swimming, and other water exercises.
If you are not having any relief by day 3 from the above therapies, please call your provider so that they may order testing and refer you to an Orthopedist or Physical Therapist to give you more specialized care.
These specialists can help you with taping your knee to limit movement and allow for corrected form. They also can give you a personalized plan to get you back running on your rehabilitation journey.
Exercises And Stretches For Runners Knee
Rest is important, but that doesnt mean you have to lie on the couch for the next week. Try doing the exercises below 3 to 5 times a week for 6 weeks.
Know before you move: These exercises are general suggestions that may help your knee, but a physical therapist can give you a proper evaluation, determine why you have runners knee, and create the best course of action for your pain and injury.
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Runners Knee Stretching Exercise: Stretches Your It Band
Start in an upright position and put the SUPER BAND around your foot. Grasp the band with your hands. Slowly get on your back and place both legs on the floor. Use the SUPER BAND to actively raise the leg as far as possible and let it sink inward.
Use the band to pull your leg further into the stretch and remain in this position.
Tip: for another mobilizing effect, you can gently circle your leg in the end position of the stretch and bend and extend the knee.
Improving Flexibility And Mobility
In addition to weakness or lack of motor control in the body, tightness with deficits in flexibility and/or mobility may also lead to runners knee. In particular, tightness of the hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf musculature can lead to increased stress at the knee as well. There are a variety of ways that you can improve the flexibility of the soft tissues of your lower extremities while also improving joint mobility! Below are some exercises that will help you with flexibility and mobility of the lower extremities!
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So How Long Should Recovery Take
Research suggests that doing exercises that strengthen the knees and hips 3 to 4 times a week for 6 weeks can help decrease knee pain.
But if nothing is working after 3 weeks and you still have significant pain, seeing a doctor or physical therapist is your best next step.
Starting with the exercises listed is sufficient for acute pain, says Win. From there, I typically would progress them into more functional exercises or runner-specific. This could be jumps, hops, and landing mechanics, which is important to implement before going full on running again.
You may need further evaluation with a CT scan, X-ray, or MRI to determine if there is an underlying cause.
Win also mentions that recovery really depends on the individual and the diagnosis behind the knee pain. Typically, recovery can take about 6 weeks.
How Can I Prevent Runners Knee
While youre waiting for your knee to heal, you should switch to a form of exercise that wont put stress on the joint, such as swimming. Once you can bend and straighten your knee without any pain, you can resume your regular workouts. However, there are some steps you should take to prevent a recurrence of runners knee.
Start by building up the muscles in your thighs so that they can take some of the stress off your knees. If you want to do squats or lunges, incorporate them slowly and only do a few at a time. Be sure to warm up by stretching before you work out to prevent injury. Avoid running on hard surfaces such as concrete.
Wearing quality, supportive running shoes can make a huge difference. Once your shoes start to wear out or lose their shape, replace them. Wearing arch supports may also help. You should also consider wearing a knee brace during your workouts to see if it helps.
Sometimes, seeing a physical therapist can help, so talk to your doctor to see if thats a good option for you.Runners knee can be very painful. Thankfully, it can be treated and healed, usually without the need for surgery. Employing these seven strategies will get you back to your regular running routine as quickly as possible.
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How To Treat Runners Knee:
The good news is that most people recover after 6-12 weeks of Physio therapy or Sports Therapy treatment.
Generally speaking, treatment consists of exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles of the legs and hips without increasing the amount of pressure between the kneecap and the groove of the thigh bone.
Reducing your running distance.
- Consider shortening your runs to a pretty much pain-free distance.
- If you are desperate to keep your weekly mileage ahead of an event you can try increasing the number of runs but reduce the distance and speed.
- Shorten your stride and increase the number of steps in your running to offload the knees.
Exercise your thigh muscles in a pain-free range
- To begin with, you can try simply tensing your thigh with a straight leg.
- Then if you are doing squats, for example, try to keep to mini ones and increase the number as pain allows.
Build strength in your hips
- Your glutes take 4 times your body weight. If theyre not strong, your knee has to take up the slack.
- Include endurance training of the hip and core muscles.
- Make sure your glutes, thigh and ITB stay flexible and mobile. You can use a foam roller to help with this.
- These should also be pain-free when running .
What should I avoid?
Runners Knee Causes And Treatment: Find The Source Of The Issue
The first step in how to manage runners knee is finding the underlying cause of your knee pain. More importantly, if you start to feel pain in your knee when running that doesnt go away after you stop running, STOP! The worst thing you can do is run through bad knee pain, as this may prolong the healing process and keep you sidelined longer than you would hope.
If you have tried to work through your symptoms on your own, and you are still having pain, seeking consultation from a trained physical therapist who has experience working with runners or an orthopedic physician is warranted to receive a proper evaluation, diagnosis, and individualized plan of care!
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Mix Up Your Workouts With Cross Training
One of the best ways to avoid overuse injuries like runners knee is by cross-training cardio with strengthening exercises. Try adding a few back, abdominal, and hip strengthening exercises into your workouts to help give your knees more support.
Below are a few exercises you can try to strengthen your hips and legs to reduce knee pain.
Even if youre not very active, consider adding these exercises to your daily routine. You might be surprised at how effective they can be at building muscle strength and reducing joint pain.
How To Heal Runners Knee
Getting healthy from PFPS is quite possible. In fact, its often not as difficult as many think.
But that doesnt mean it will be easy. Because runners knee is not as fully understood as other injuries, the treatment is less conclusive and more oriented toward rest and training modifications.
If youre patient and willing to try new things, you might be able to start running in just a week or two without any pain.
Check out our Injury Prevention for Runners program, which includes a full treatment protocol for runners knee:
- A daily treatment approach so you know exactly what to do to get healthy on a daily basis
- Video demonstrations of effective exercises to treat PFPS
- Tips & tricks on how to heal faster and get back to running
- Training advice on when to stop running, how to focus on pain management, and more
The program also includes training plans tailored for prevention, an expert interview series, 5 more injury treatment protocols, a collection of runner-specific core and strength routines, and more.
See all the details here and I hope that you recover from your runners knee injury as soon as possible!
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Laying Down Clam Shell
This exercise is great for addressing muscle imbalances in the knee caused by lateral hip weakness. Lie on your side with the hips stacked on top of each other and knees bent to about 90 degrees. Tighten your abs as you lift the knee closest to the ceiling upwards. Lift as high as you can go without any rotation in the spine. Hold for 1-2 seconds at the top before slowly returning the upper knee to touch the lower knee again. You will feel a burn in the side of your butt as you continue. To progress, add a loop bandaround the knees for resistance.
Repeat for 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets per day.
How To Prevent Runners Knee
To prevent runners knee, I will list a few exercises and stretches you can perform to strengthen and stretch the muscles that hold your knee in place.
It is important to remember that if you are experiencing knee pain, use your Physician as a resource and request a referral to a Physical Therapist so you can be evaluated on alignment and running form.
You may also seek the assistance of a coach to assess your form and advise you on strengthening exercises. Also, your Providers can order orthotics to help with your overpronation if the OTC shoe inserts are not helpful.
Try out the following stretches and exercises:
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How Is Runners Knee Treated
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment based on:
How old you are
Your overall health and health history
How much pain you have
How well you can handle specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
How long the condition is expected to last
Your opinion or preference
The best course of treatment for runner’s knee is to stop running until you can run again without pain. Other treatment may include:
How To Treat Runners Knee
Runners knee is a catch-all term for a variety of running injuries that affect the knee. Due to the stress that running places on the legs, runners knee problems are a common occurrence for runners. In general, runners knee pain will occur when a runner runs too many miles or trains at higher intensity than his or her body is capable of handling . Here are suggestions about to cope with runners knee.Causes of Runners Knee Injuries
Runners knee almost exclusively seems to occur when runners incorporate high mileage, intense speed-work, and racing into their training without easing into the new workload. The injury also occurs when a runner runs in worn out shoes, or has an over-pronation problem. Thus, it is essential to run only in high-quality, supportive shoes. You may also want to visit a podiatrist for orthodics if you suspect that you might be an over-pronator. However, these will not help you if you already have pain.
How to Treat and Cure Runners Knee InjuriesHere are some suggestions for trying to heal a runners knee problem:
LIGHT stretching: In combating runners knee it is important to understand that your knee pain may actually be the symptom of a problem originating from another part of your body. Tight hamstrings, calves and quads are often responsible for knee issues. Make a habit to lightly stretch these areas at least three times a day.
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