Check out an article from our Client Account Manager, Natalie Ward, on the Prevention & Treatment of Runner’s Knee – original post on LinkedIn.
Prevention & Treatment of Runner’s Knee
The average recreational runner has a 37% – 56% chance of being injured during the course of a year’s training (Collado & Fredericson, 2010) and the knee is the most common site of injury.
Runners knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFP) constitutes 25% of injuries to the knee and whilst the cause of PFP is widely debated and argued that the causes are multi-factorial, the commonly accepted hypothesis is related to the force impacted on the joint. (Collado & Fredericson, 2010, Peterson et al, 2014).
Common symptoms of runner’s knee include:
- Pain behind or around your kneecap
- Pain when bending the knee
- More pain going downstairs than you have when going upstairs
- Popping sensations
Any combination of these symptoms can have a serious impact on your daily routine and although over time runner’s knee will most likely heal on its own with suitable rest & recovery, there are several treatments and preventative methods available.
Prevention of runner’s knee can be achieved in many ways, through supports, stretching, footwear or changing your workout routine.
Mueller Sports Medicine provide a range of different knee straps, braces and supports, one of which I have personally found to be of great use in the prevention of runner’s knee, and that is their ‘Jumper’s Knee Strap’. The tubular insert helps improve patellar tracking and helps relieve pain from frequent running and jumping by applying mild pressure on patellar tendon just below kneecap – this strap is incredible comfortable to wear and is cost effective retailing at around £7 – £10.
Stretching is the number one thing that should be regularly featured in all exercises, a contributing factor to runner’s knee is poor hamstring flexibility resulting in more stress being applied to the knee joint (Messier et al. 2008).
My routine for running includes a 10-minute warm up, followed by 5 minutes of stretching, 3-5-mile run, 10-minute cool down and 10 minutes of stretching. On my rest & recovery days I also do yoga which I cannot recommend enough – I initially started yoga to help with tightness in my hip flexors but found that overall my running technique became more efficient, there was a considerable reduction in the aches around my joints due to the increased flexibility and range of motion around each of my joints.
Whether you are a recreational runner or a star athlete choosing the correct footwear is essential, with the many kinds of running shoe available on the market you need to think about the level of support you are after, the surfaces you will be running on and your budget.
Another way to help prevent runner’s knee would be to change your workout routine, this is something that is personal to everyone and how you choose to alternate your exercises is ultimately a personal decision based on sports/exercises you enjoy doing. For example, if you are running 5 consecutive days a week – this is causing high impact on your knee joints, to change this workout pattern you could try switching 2 days out for swimming instead of running.
There are a range of methods to help address the pain and swelling caused by runner’s knee, like most sport injuries the best method to follow is rest, ice, compression and elevation.
Rest is extremely important as the body needs time to heal, resting does not mean you have to stop exercising completely, going for a swim for example takes the weight off the knee joint so no further damage is caused.
Icing the joint for 20-30 minutes a day will help reduce swelling and pain levels.
Using the Mueller Closed Patella Knee Sleeve will help with day to day activity whilst you are experiencing swelling and pain by improving circulation to assist in healing.
Increasing muscular strength can take a significant amount of pressure off the knee joint. In a study by Ferber, Kendall & Farr 2011, participants with runner’s knee partaking in a 3-week hip abductor muscle strengthening protocol found a significant decrease in pain.
Herve Collado & Michael Fredericson, ‘Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome’, Clinical Sports Medicine, vol. 29, issue 3, 2010, pp. 379-398.
Wolf Petersen, Andree Ellermann, Andreas Gösele-Koppenburg, Raymond Best, Ingo Volker Rembitzki, Gerd-Peter Brüggemann & Christian Liebau, ‘Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome’, Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, vol. 22, issue 10, 2014, pp. 2264-2274.
Stephen P. Messier, Claudine Legault, Casey R. Schoenlank, Jovita Newman, David Martin & Paul Devita, ‘Risk Factors and Mechanisms of Knee Injury in Runners’, Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise, vol. 40, issue 11 2008; pp. 1873-1879.
Reed Ferber, Karen D. Kendall, and Lindsay Farr, ‘Changes in Knee Biomechanics After a Hip-Abductor Strengthening Protocol for Runners with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome’, Journal of Athletic Training, vol. 46, issue 2, pp. 142-149.