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How to Treat and Prevent Runner’s Knee

How to Prevent and Treat Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is the most common of all running ailments. It is characterized by dull pain often felt behind or around the top of the knee cap. Runner’s knee makes training difficult, and some motions are more aggravating than others: squatting, running (especially downhill), going down stairs, and prolonged sitting.

How to Prevent Runner’s Knee

The good news is that runner’s knee is preventable by being mindful of a few best practices and adding them into your running routine.

  1. Warm up prior to running. Try a brisk 5-minute walk to get your body ready for a run.

  2. Stretch after your body is warm. Take time to stretch the main muscles you will be using–hips, thighs, quads, calves, and hamstrings.

  3. Get your feet properly fitted for running shoes that fit you, specifically. And once they are worn out, be sure to replace them with fresh shoes.

  4. Stay at a healthy weight. Extra weight puts added stress on your knees and joints.

  5. Build up your mileage, gradually and safely. It is recommended that you add no more than 10% of the distance to your previous week’s run.

  6. Strengthening. Focusing on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals.

  7. Cross-training.  Don’t just run, mix in other cardio exercises such as cycling, elliptical, and cross-training.

If runner’s knee has already “struck”, have no fear. There are numerous ways you can treat this condition.

How to Treat Runner’s Knee

To speed up recovery, try these tips.

  1. Follow the RICE formula: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. This will help reduce swelling and relieve minor pain.

  2. Practice stretching and strengthening exercises. Foam rollers can help ease muscle strain associated with runner’s knee. A strengthening program focusing on the hip muscles is important because weakness in these muscles can cause an increased load on the knee cap leading to abnormal movement patterns and pain.

  3. Try adding arch supports to your shoes. Arch supports can be bought over-the-counter in drug stores, or you can have them custom-made.

  4. Physical Therapy. Your physical therapist can help guide you through an exercise and stretching program as well as provide manual therapy and modalities to treat the affected area.

When Should You Start Running Again?

 It’s very important that you give yourself plenty of time to heal, so you don’t increase the injury to your knee. During this time of recovery, you might try a new form of exercise that is lighter on the knee, such as swimming laps.

Don’t return to your old level of physical activity until:

  1. You feel no pain in the knee when you walk, sprint, jump, or jog.

  2. You can bend and straighten your knee without pain.

  3. Your injured knee feels as equally good as your non-injured knee.

Follow these tips to prevent runner’s knee, heal from runner’s knee, and know when the time is right to lace up your running shoes and hit the road again!

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