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Home » Blog » Runner’s Knee or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
runner's knee

Runner’s Knee or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Runner’s Knee is medically known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) and describe the pain behind or around the knee cup

Runner’s Knee affects top runners and amateurs alike and accounts for nearly 50% of all running injuries.

What happens:

The knee cap (patella) glides up and down over the groove on the thigh bone (femur) when you bend and straighten your knee. The surface of these two bones is coated with cartilage to improve the gliding and reduce friction. Like in all joints the movement should be smooth, coordinated by different structures. When this balance is altered usually the pressure on the cartilage is increased and inflammation and overuse can occur.

Symptoms:

  • Tenderness around or behind your knee cap
  • Pain that is aggravated by downhill running or walking down stairs
  • Dull pain when running on uneven terrain
  • Pain when you push on the patella

Some Causes:

  • ‘Mal-tracking’ of the patella in the femoral groove
  • Poor alignment of leg, abnormal muscle forces
  • Poor strength and flexibility in hips, hamstrings and quadriceps
  • Training errors
  • Possibly worn out or inappropriate footwear

Some Tips:

  • Improve flexibility of your quadriceps, hip flexors and hamstrings
  • Strengthening hip and gluts muscles
  • Training adjustments to volume and intensity, avoid downhills
  • Cross-train or rowing instead of impact full activities

Prevention:

  • Be proactive with prevention: regular strength and flexibility routine
  • Balanced strengthening exercise program to improve overall stability
  • Listen to your body and respond at the first sign of discomfort
  • Building mileage. Do not increase your mileage by more than 5-10 percent from one week to the next.
  • Avoid excessive downhill running and stairs

Physiotherapy will help you first of all to identify the cause of “your own” runner knee. This can be different than the cause of your neighbor’s problem!  It will also help to prevent PFPS from happening again.  A proper general assessment, followed bio-mechanical assessments, gait and running analysis strengthening and stretching exercises will help to solve the knee problem. In addition specific strapping, massage, deep frictions, electrotherapy and insoles can help to reduce the pain.

Untreated PFPS can increase the risk of onset of Osteoarthritis in the knee, can lead to chronic pain and reduce the pleasure of running and even walking up and down hills or stairs comfortably. Pain induced inactivity will lead to generalised reduced fitness and increased weakness. This can then kick start a chain reaction of negative adaptations.

If you have been suffering with PFPS ask for professional help at your physiotherapy clinic.

At Swissphysio we have helped many people to be pain free and many athletes from different backgrounds to get back to their optimal performance level.