Dealing with runners knee is no fun and can sometimes discourage you just enough to not go that extra mile that everyone is pushing themselves for these days. Many runners like myself will truly feel the impacts of runners knee as we transition from winter into spring, meaning from treadmills and stair-masters to the more harsh but ever so beautifully inspiring outdoors.
Runners knee is very common. It is really a general term used to describe an array of possible diagnoses. If you’re dealing with knee pain, it’s important to understand exactly what’s going on so you can apply the right stretches. Knee pain after running is often caused by muscle weaknesses or imbalances.
Some of the most common diagnoses include patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), IT band Friction Syndrome, Patellar Tendonitis, Meniscal Pain and Fibular Mead Instability.
PFPS is described as having a pain in the front of the knee, behind the knee cap at the patellofemoral joint. From overuse, a muscular imbalance, tightness, poor hip-knee alignment or flat feet can cause pain in the groove of this joint where the patella moves.
The thin band of connective tissue that runs from the outside of the hip to the outside of the knee is also a critical stabilizer of the knee joint. The Illiotibial band or IT band syndrome can occur when band becomes tight or inflamed with a pain reported on the outside of the knee. If the pain kicks in 5-10 minutes after you run there is a good chance this might be what you are feeling. It is important to take a break or schedule breaks in running as you build up strength so this doesn’t become chronic.
Minor wears and tears on the meniscus and can be felt as deep pains within the knee or the fibular head causing the feeling of inflamed bursa are all contributors to runners knee. In some extreme cases arthroscopic knee surgery may be warranted.
If proper self care is taken you can help mitigate the need for surgery by applying the proper self-care as a runner.
1. Ice it up with cryotherapy immediately after you run or anytime you feel the pain. It will help with inflammation. Only apply for 20 minutes at a time.
2. Release trigger points in the gastric and soles through massage or stretching of the IT Bands, Hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, glutes and even calves.
3. Apply apply massage to the stellar tendon, muscle attachments along the IT band while deep tissue and firmer pressure to the quadricep muscles.
4. Strengthen your lower body and core. Establish 2 -3 days a week to care for you core.
5. Get the right shoes. Podiatry is out of the scope of this post, but no one wants to google another term.