Injury: Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner's knee)

Gavin Burt breaks down this common and terribly painful injury.

by Gavin Burt

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Some Dos And Don'ts

Don’t stretch the quads as the stretch itself tends to increase the pressure of the patella against the knee. Instead try foam rolling or using a wooden spoon or rolling pin to massage up and down the quadriceps muscles. This will give a similar result as stretching.

Do Stretch your hamstrings, calves and hip flexors on a regular basis.

Do try sports taping to help keep the patella in line (or a sports ‘open patella’ knee support may help), and strengthening exercises to encourage the kneecap to track properly.

Do strengthen your hamstrings and glutes, as you will need their support as you change your running style to be more efficient.

Do try ‘retrorunning’, which is essentially running backwards. Most safely done on a treadmill with side bars, retrorunning takes pressure off all the usual muscles that are used when running forwards. A 5 minute session three to four times per week is a good start.

Do visit an osteopath or physiotherapist who specialises in running injuries, not just one who deals with sports injuries in general (after all they may only be experienced in swimming injuries of the shoulder!). A good running injury therapist will check lots of things, one of the most important (especially for runners who regularly run over 5k) being whether or not you have one leg shorter than the other, which is often due to a pelvic imbalance that can be corrected on the spot.

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Discuss this article

As mentioned in the article, I think the majority of cases are caused by the quads stretch where runners pull their foot back up to their bum. It pulls the kneecap hard on the femur. It's a disastrous stretch. I see it all the time. Don't do it!

Posted: 04/01/2014 at 19:33



I have had knee pain since a cross training session ( lots of squat jumps) on monday night, running since has caused some discomfort so after reading this article I decided to go out for a short run yesterday and tried taking off and landing on my heels tricky but I think I got it right and my knee was fine while running but once I cooled down the pain started again now its a constant dull ache!! anybody know a running osteopath or physio around stratford upon Avon?  Thanks

Posted: 19/01/2014 at 08:54

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