Runner’s knee—otherwise known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS—is the most common injury among runners. The major symptom of runner’s knee is pain below the kneecap, which grows in intensity while running, and may be felt during rest as well. The cause of the pain is mysterious; unlike other knee injuries, there is no structural damage associated with runner’s knee.
The lack of structural abnormalities has led orthopedists to believe that PFPS is a result of overstimulation of the pain nerves in the knee. Accordingly, treating runner’s knee requires that you treat the pain, as well as the factors that contribute to the pain.
The Basic Causes of Runner’s Knee
Your running shoes are the connection between you and the earth. As a result, they play a very large part in keeping your body healthy and your gait strong. How old are your running shoes and how many miles do they have on them? Old or heavily used running shoes lose cushion and support, which can cause your joints to experience more stress.
Do you run on grass, or do you run on concrete and pavement? If it’s the latter ones, then you may need to switch it up to a more forgiving surface. Also, is the surface you run on level? If the level is slanted or uneven, it will throw your gait off and your knees will experience uneven wear and tear.
Muscle imbalances in your legs and hips can contribute to knee pain. Weak hip external rotators and weak hip abductors are usually present in those with PFPS, and will cause your legs to rotate inward as they strike the ground. This pinches your knee and damages the joint.
Have your gait assessed by a professional. They will be able to identify problems in the way your feet strike the ground and help you correct your movement patterns. You may be required to hit the gym to strengthen and stretch certain muscles in your leg and hip girdle, or use a special shoe insert to combat pronation.
Get the Right Shoes
You’re also going to want to try out different shoes. If your current shoes are giving you pain, experiment with shoes that either give less or more cushion. The right level of cushioning is different for each runner, so you’ll need to decide which one you feel best in.
Create a Sustainable Training Plan
Increasing your mileage too fast increases your risk of injury. You should shoot for a mileage increase of just 10 percent a week; this will give your body enough time to adjust to the increasing demands. After two or three weeks of increases, cut your mileage back by 15-20 percent for a rest week before increasing again.
Also, give yourself plenty of time for recovery. If you’re running everyday, try reducing it to every other day and see how it makes you feel. Alternate hard workouts with easy workouts, and cross-train to avoid overuse patterns in your joints and muscles.
Runner’s knee is a painful, yet minor condition that can be effectively treated by focusing on the above areas. If you ever do feel pain, make sure to take anti-inflammatory medication, apply lots of ice, and give yourself adequate recovery time for the pain to go away.
The muscles and bones in our body are all connected with each other. Poor alignment can manifest in multiple ways and cause a string of problems, including leg and joint pain. If you live in Pittsburgh, call Choice Chiropractic. We can help you diagnose the cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan that works for you.