Fixing Knee Pain in Runners

What is Runner’s Knee?

Patellofemoral pain (PFP), or runner’s knee, has been widely regarded as one of the most common sources of knee pain affecting various populations, including adults, amateur athletes, adolescents, and military people.

Runner’s knee is an umbrella term encompassing symptoms arising from irritation or injury to any aspect of the patellofemoral joint, including subchondral bone, synovial membrane, fat pad, and/or retinacular tissues. PFP can be related to trauma or, more commonly related, to overuse associated with repetitive movements such as running or cycling.

What Causes Runner’s Knee?

There is little available evidence that demonstrates causal links between risk factors and developing PFP; however, some potential contributors may include:

  • Training load errors (too much, too soon)
  • Biomechanical factors that increase the load on the patellofemoral joint (peak hip adduction, stride length, footwear)
  • Non-mechanical factors (kinesiophobia, catastrophization and low self-efficacy)

How Can Physiotherapy Help?

If you are experiencing patellofemoral knee pain, physiotherapy intervention can help with:

  • Education on appropriate training load modifications: What and how much to do
  • Modified lower extremity resistance exercises: How to modify and progress exercises
  • Biomechanical (how your muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments work together) modifications to reduce forces at the patellofemoral joint
  • Addressing non-mechanical factors such as pain-related fear, sleep, stress, and mental health factors

A running assessment, including video analysis, can help assess your running form related to your knee pain.

Step up’s are a great running strength exercise to help with single leg loading mechanics and patellar tracking.

The article was written by Physiotherapist Matt Ney