Running may be fantastic for your health and for improving your personal fitness, but it’s not without its risk of injury. No matter how experienced you are, or how much effort you put into preventing an injury occurring, it’s inevitable that at some point in your running career you’re going to ‘run’ into difficulty.
One of the most common complaints among runners is the uncomfortable condition referred to as ‘runner’s knee’. Fortunately, this guide has been created to tell you everything you need to know about the condition, including how best to avoid it.
What is it?
Patellofemoral pain syndrome – more commonly referred to as runner’s knee – is pain or discomfort experienced when the surface of the kneecap comes into contact with the thigh bone. It’s one of the most common running injuries, although it’s also experienced by cyclists, figure skaters and skateboarders.
What causes it?
The condition is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage between the kneecap and the thigh bone. This deterioration occurs as a result of the repeated compression of the joint, which is why it’s so common in runners and why, to an extent, it’s unavoidable for anyone covering long distances.
However, there are certain factors which will contribute to the onset of this condition. Being overweight will naturally exert more pressure on the joint and lead to the deterioration of the cartilage faster. The same can be said for excessive running; if you’re running so much that your knees are in pain, it’s time to reduce your training schedule and the miles you cover.
You’re also more likely to suffer from runner’s knee if you’re running downhill a lot of the time. When you’re running downhill, the impact of each stride is significantly more than if you were running on level terrain or uphill, which will lead to quicker deterioration of the cartilage.
What treatments are available?
At the first sign of any pain when you’re running, whether it’s in your knees, hips or feet, the best thing you can do is stop and take a break from training.
Use icepacks to reduce inflammation and resume a reduced training schedule when the pain has subsided. Runners will also benefit from low impact exercises like swimming, which will build up the muscles to prevent the likelihood of runner’s knee, without contributing to the deterioration of the cartilage.
How can it be prevented?
It’s difficult to advise any runner not to push themselves too far. After all, pushing your body to its limits and conquering goals and targets is central to long distance running, so in many respects it would be futile to advise a runner to ‘take it easy’.
However, there are certain things you can do to reduce the risk of developing the condition.
Exercises like the lateral side step will help to build your quadriceps; this muscle supports the patella after all, and so will reduce the risk of you developing runner’s knee in the future. Take a look at this brief, but very helpful demonstration of a lateral side step.
It’s also important to make sure that your running shoes are suitable, as this can be a leading factor to runner’s knee. If your feet roll inwards during running, possibly due to low arches or poor grips, this will put additional stress on the knee and accelerate the cartilage wear.
The footwear in the range of Asics running shoes at Millet Sports is designed to limit the impact of each stride you take though. As a result, wearing something from this collection is going to reduce the risk of you developing runner’s knee, as well increasing your grip and restricting the roll of your feet inwards.
You may not be able to completely avoid this troublesome and limiting complaint, but you can do your best to minimise the risk of it occurring by following some simple tips and advice. Wear decent running shoes, spend some time building the muscles which support your kneecap and stop running at the onset of any pain, to give yourself the best chance of battling runner’s knee!