Reason #: Runner’s Knee Is Not An Overuse Injury
There’s a common misconception that Runner’s Knee is simply an overuse injury and if you reduce your milage or rest for a few weeks it will go away. Although you will feel better if you stop the aggravating activity, the mechanical pressure will continue along your kneecap and eventually everyday activities will bother it too like walking or going down stairs.
To fix the problem, you need to remove the mechanical issue. Avoiding use of your knee does not fix the problem. You need to figure out why your kneecap joint is creating friction when you move it.
Front Or Side Location Is The Main Obvious Difference Between It Band And Patellofemoral Pain
The easiest way to tell the difference between the two conditions is simply by the location of the symptoms. PFPS affects the kneecap and surrounding area, whereas ITBS definitely affects primarily the side of the knee .
The location of PFPS is less predictable, but it usually still has an anterior epicentre. ITBS does not spread much beyond its hot spot on the side of the knee.
ITBS has a specific definition: it refers only to strong pain on the side of the knee, at or just above the lateral epicondyle. Pain in the hip or thigh is something else. For more detail about this common point of confusion, see IT Band Pain is Knee Pain, Not Hip Pain
Ow! Damn! The side of my knee hurts!
every single IT band syndrome victim ever
Why Does My Knee Hurt
There can be many reasons why your knee hurts. Cases can vary from minor irritation of the knee joint to tendinitis or even ligament tears. However, one of the most common conditions seen in runners is Runners Knee or medically known as patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Runners Knee affects up to 22% of the population and is more frequently seen in women. Typically, this condition is due to overuse which can be related to a sudden spike in activity, such as the intensity and frequency of your training. When we quickly increase the amount of activity performed without rest, the structures of our knee will not have time to recover. Similar to how our muscles ache after exercise, we need to for it to rest, or else our body will continue to be sore.
Other more uncommon reasons for Runners Knee include direct injuries or even after surgery.
Also Check: How To Improve Knee Joints
Knee Pain Comes In Many Forms It Can Be Sharp Dull Achy Zinging Shocking Or Creaky
Physical therapists do our best to quantify pain, with numerical scales and questionnaires about how much pain affects function, such as the popular 0-10 pain scale. But ultimately, pain can be very subjective. For some people, a light ache can cause them to yelp when they bend their knee. Others will grin and bear it, running through any amount of knee pain as long as they think they arent permanently damaging their bodies. While the techniques and scales we have for measuring pain are very helpful in quantifying and categorizing pain, they dont necessarily tell us when any given person should stop running or keep going, because pain is so individualized.
That said, there are some general guidelines to follow if youre trying to decipher between an annoying ache and a real injury.
Why Strength Training Is So Important For Runners
Strength training provides muscle support and strength to the knee joints to protect them whilst running, as well as the surrounding muscles eg. the hips help control the knee and alignment, as well as supporting the lateral trunk movements, explains senior chartered physiotherapist and Pilates instructor Tracy Ward.
For those not in the know, strength training is anything that forces you to work against resistance as you exercise. And yes, bodyweight training also counts as strength training. Its a brilliant way to build lean muscle tissue, increase muscular strength and, something thats crucial for runners, help with endurance, too.
Strength training also builds muscular endurance to accommodate for long runs or frequent runs, explains Ward. It provides an additional and different stimulus compared to running, which is only linear. Strength training allows the muscles to continually progress, adapt and grow.
Helpful resources for runners who want to strength train
- Clue up on these major strength training benefits
Read Also: When To Get Knee Surgery
What Causes Runners Knee
Overuse and knee cap misalignment are common causes of runner’s knee. Repetitive strain or overuse can happen with activities such as cycling, squatting, and going up or down stairs that repeatedly stress your knees.
Misalignment, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. When you bend and straighten your knee, the patella slides up and down the trochlear groove at the end of the femur. But when your patella is misaligned, it moves abnormally in this groove, rubbing against surrounding bone and soft tissue. As a result, you may feel pain in the front of your knee.
Some people with runner’s knee may also have damaged cartilage under their knee cap. This softening or breakdown of cartilage is called chondromalacia patella. Although runners knee and chondromalacia patella can overlap, they are different. This is worth noting because some people use the terms interchangeably.
Researchers aren’t sure why some people develop runner’s knee while others do not. But additional factors that may cause or contribute to runner’s knee include:
Imbalances, weakness, or tightness in lower-extremity muscles around the knee, such as the quadriceps or hamstrings
Improper exercise or running form
Weight gain, which increases pressure on your knees
Hip, ankle, or foot misalignment
Falls or other acute injuries
What Kind Of Running Shoes/ Knee Bandage I Use For Runners Knee
Is a knee bandage a good idea? A bandage can support the knee and help with stability, which can bring some relief. In some cases depending on both the person and on the bandage used the additional pressure can actually increase pain. You should try and see for yourself whether a knee bandage is right for you. Important to know: a bandage can only provide support it cant get rid of the causes of runners knee that weve described above.
What kind of running shoes should you wear? Its difficult to give a general answer to this question. Your choice of shoe depends on many factors, such as your bodys biomechanics, tension balances, running technique, and the amount of time spent running. Sometimes, the right insole support can help with overpronation of the foot as described above. In general, however, we recommend doing the following exercises and adapting your running technique so that you actively use the foot arches and the rising muscles and fascia as cushioning structures, instead of the bones and joints. This imitates a healthy barefoot running technique and essentially means using barefoot running shoes. Be careful: it takes time to adapt.
The runner´s knee – one of the most common diagnoses for knee pain – can be treated well with adjusting activity and learning techniques to regulate imbalances.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Knee Sleeve For Arthritis
How To Recognize Runners Knee
First of all, in order to recognize it, you need to completely understand the location of the runners knee pain. The pain described as dull is often originating from the front of the knee in the region known as the patella, or the kneecap. This is the exact area in which the knee connects with the thigh bone .
The most common symptoms of the runners knee are:
- Pain in and around the kneecap
- Rubbing, grinding, and clicking sound that the kneecap makes
- A kneecap that is tender to the touch
Keep in mind that each of these symptoms, on their own, may indicate some other affliction, as well. Put together, nonetheless, they are a pretty clear sign that what you might be dealing with is the runners knee. Nonetheless, the only way to tell for sure is to go see a specialist.
What Are Symptoms Of Pain In The Side Of The Kneecap
Symptoms that accompany pain in the side of the kneecap can vary depending on condition and may include:
- Dull, aching pain in the front of the knee
- Pain during activities that bend the knee, such as running, jumping, stair climbing, or squatting
- Popping or crackling sounds in the knee
- Knee may click or lock
- Pain when sitting with knees bent
- Feeling as if the knee may give way
- Pins and needles feeling in the foot
Also Check: What Kind Of Doctor Specializes In Knees
Does Runners Knee Go Away
If you continue to run without rest or seeking a professional opinion, your symptoms will most likely not improve. Without modifying the activity you are currently performing, this will continue to aggravate symptoms and restrict your physical activity. Seeking the opinion of a physical therapist will fast track your recovery with specific strategies and rehabilitation plan. To help assist your recovery, we have two simple recommendations.
1. Modify your training load
One of the best ways to manage overuse injuries is to adjust the amount of running or training youre performing. An easy strategy I implement for runners is to reduce the distance run by half and gradually build it back up. Alternatively, you can decrease your intensity, speed, or even take more regular breaks in between.
2. Strengthening your leg muscles
Strengthening of the muscles around your knee will allow you to keep running and gradually increase your running capacity. Muscles such as the quadriceps and hamstrings are vital for improving your knees ability to tolerate stress. Other points of weaknesses that may contribute to Runners Knee include weak hip muscles , poor foot posture, and insufficient calf strength.
For a more streamlined and effective rehabilitation program, we would recommend that you be assessed by a physical therapist to find your specific point of weakness. The correct exercise program will help ensure you continue to run without any flare-ups.
Reason #: Ice Nsaids And Cortisone Injections Help Runner’s Knee Feel Better But Don’t Really Solve The Inflammation Issue
Icing, NSAIDs and cortisone injections help turn down your body’s natural inflammation and healing response. This reduces the number of “pain chemicals” you produce and your knee feels better — just like magic. But as your knee warms up or the medication/shot wears off, you are right back to square one.
A research paper in the journal Radiology recently reported that cortisone injections can actually worsen knee problems and increase your risk of degeneration or needing a knee replacement. We think this occurs because inflammation is part of your body’s natural healing response. If you turn this off, you turn off your body’s ability to repair. This speeds up the rate at which your knee falls apart.
Recommended Reading: What Can I Do To Relieve Knee Pain
When Does Knee Pain Become Serious
To tell normal pain from more serious signs of injury, look out for sharp pains inside the knee or along the joint lines. Also pay attention to how the knee looks and feels any external swelling or locking when you move the knee is a sign of more serious injury, especially if it persists after three days of rest.
You can continue working out with knee pain, but Dr. Miller stresses paying attention to how youre feeling and not pushing your body when hurting. If the pain gets any worse, or persists after two weeks, stop running and consult help.
Knee Pain When Running The Definition
There are many overuse injuries that strike the knee joint.
One of the most common is known as runners knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome .
The condition is also pretty common among those who any sports that involve repeated stress to the knee joint.
So what is all about?
Runners knee is all the catch term used to refer to pain in the kneecap.
The condition causes an achy, dull pain at the front of the knee and around the kneecap.
Its widespread among runners, basketball players, cyclists, and those who participate in sports involving jumping.
Symptoms may include a dull ache or sharp pain, grinding or clicking on or around the patella, and chronic stiffness.
Classic treatment options include cold therapy, anti-inflammatory meds, and stretching.
Thats why when it comes to soothing and preventing knee issues in runners, stretching can help.
Dont take my word for itresearch backs this up.
A study published in American Family Physicians reported that increase strength and flexibility in the quad muscles is more effective than the routine use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or knee braces for soothing and preventing pain.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If You Need Knee Surgery
How Long Does Runner’s Knee Last
How long it takes to recover from runners knee depends on how severe your specific case is and how quickly and effectively you treat it.
You usually start seeing promising improvements in symptoms within 4 weeks of starting the right treatment plan.
Mild cases can fully resolve within 6 to 8 weeks, while more severe cases may take several months to recover. Especially if youve ignored it for some time and continued to train through pain.
Knee Pain When Running: 5 Exercises To Fix It
I can guess that as a runner, youre having an ache or pain in your knees or some other joint while running.
And I know that it can improve with strength training.
There are a few common causes of knee pain that occur among runners. To understand them we have to first review how the knee joint functions.
Because the knee is a hinge joint, its function is to flex and extend in only one directionfront to back. This makes it an easy target for an improper stride and weak musculature. The ankle joint and hip joint dont have this problem.
With regards to the lower body, the knee joint takes the most toll when running with weak muscles. If your calves, hamstrings, and quads arent prepared to absorb the force of the initial contact with the ground and your hips arent strong enough to keep your knees stable the joint will suffer.
Other Knee Injuries Can Feel Like Runner’s Knee
Many other conditions can cause knee painand some feel similar to runner’s knee. This includes small cracks in the kneecap called stress fractures, tendonitis, torn ligaments, cysts, and arthritis. Some peopleespecially older folkscan have arthritis and runner’s knee at the same time.
There’s no single test that pinpoints patellofemoral pain syndrome. Sometimes, your doctor can diagnose it by asking you about your symptoms, examining you, and watching your knees as you perform movements like one-legged squats. In other cases, he or she may order X-rays, an MRI, or other imaging tests to rule out other knee injuries or conditions, Dr. Kaeding says.
Warning Signs Your Knees May Need Attention
If you develop any pain around the knee including above, below, or behind the kneecap during a run, your body is trying to tell you something. Regardless of whether the pain is dull or sharp, the best course of action is to stop running and rest.
Some common knee injuries in runners include:
- Runners knee. This condition usually manifests as pain in the front of the knee or around the kneecap when youre running. Its caused by stress between the patella and femur , which causes the cartilage to become irritated .
- IT band syndrome. If your outer knee is bothering you, you may have iliotibial band syndrome, which occurs when the IT band a long tendon that stretches from your hip down to your outer knee is too tight .
- Jumpers knee. Also known as patellar tendonitis, this condition is caused by an inflamed patellar tendon, which connects your kneecap to your shin. Youll experience pain in the front of the knee .
- Bursitis. If you have knee bursitis, youll experience inflammation and swelling in one of the small, fluid-filled sacs, called bursa, in the knee. This may manifest as a swollen mass on the front of the knee .
If knee pain stops you from running, apply ice to the area and take it easy. If after a few days rest your knee is still bothering you, see your doctor for further evaluation.
If you experience any knee pain during a run, the best course of action is to stop, rest, and hang up your shoes for a few days.
Also Check: Is Lidocaine Good For Knee Pain
What Is Jumper’s Knee
Jumper’s knee also called patellar tendonitis is an overuse injury that occurs when a tendon is overloaded, causing it to thicken. I see this most often in younger patients who complain about pain in the front of the knee.
It can be especially painful when you squat, jump or land. Jumper’s knee typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood.
Some Basics About Both Injuries To Keep In Mind
Beware of chronicity! Although humans are born to run, and most cases are easy to recover from, these injuries do have a nasty way of dragging on and on in some unlucky runners please be aware of that risk. These conditions definitely do not have any guaranteed cures.
There are also many myths about both conditions that need busting, like the one about IT band stretching, the dubious importance of kneecap tracking, or the exaggerated dangers of running on pavement .