How many times have you heard the phrase "I can't run as my knees get sore"? One of the most common ailments effecting runners is quite easily solvable. Patellofemoral pain syndrome or more commonly known as 'Runners Knee' is that niggling tender pain experienced around or behind the knee cap. Causes include the repetitive force of pounding on the tarmack, downhill running, muscle weakness and imbalances, weak core or hips or simply running in the wrong type of trainer. Any one of these can put extra stress on the knee cap resulting in the discomfort you may feel.
The first thing I would look at is what trainers are you running in. If they are old and the cushioning is gone that will add to the stress on the knee. If the trainer is not supportive enough I.E.You are a heavy pronater and you are running in a soft neutral shoe your foot may not be in the ideal position resulting in negative stresses placed on the body.
Overuse is a major factor when trying to identify cause. Are you new to running and have simly done too much too quickly? Or the other end of the scale, a seasoned runner who has upped the mileage and training too quickly?
Muscle weakness and imbalances are sometimes also to blame. Some simple rehabilitative exercises to increase muscle strength and endurance can do wonders in relieving symptoms. Think of it logically. Lets say you have a weak Gluteus Medius...now I know you've heard of the 'glutes' aka. 'bum' muscles. Now we're not talking your Gluteus Maximus which is pretty much your major 'bum' muscle, but the smaller, often forgotten muscle on the upper 'bum' region, located on either side of your hips. One of it's jobs is to stabilize the pelvis as we walk or run. When a weakness or imbalance is present you can often see a disinct hip drop to one side. Now if you have a hip drop, every time you take a step, and keep in mind just how many steps you will take even on a short walk or run, the force placed not only on the knees, but the feet, the ankles the hips...it's all wrong. Our bodies are amazing and can compensate in the most amazing ways but we can only keep up the momentum for so long before some sort of negative effect is experienced. If such a weakness is identified it is then easily correctable with specific exercises to target and strengthen that specific muscle, meaning it will then function properly and the injury or discomfort you experience should disappear.
Things to do when you experience symptoms associated with 'Runners Knee':
- Look at your shoes. Are they they too old? Are they the right type for your specific foot?
- Evaluate your training. Too much too soon?
- Identify any muscle imbalances or weaknesses.
- Avoid too much downhill running and try running on softer surfaces such as grass
Next time you hear someone utter that phrase 'Running makes my knees sore!' you can confidently relay this advice, or better yet, send them to me for an indepth Gait Analysis where we will identify the problem and make a plan to correct it and get them running!!