Running and Knee Pain
Runner’s knee, also called patellofemoral pain (PFP), commonly affects many runners every year, and it can quickly turn into a nagging injury if not addressed properly. It is one of the most common diagnoses in sports medicine, and most experts believe that simple “overload” plays an important part in the development of runner’s knee. It also affects women more commonly than men, and this is mainly attributed to women having wider hips that create sharper angles during running.
At the first sign of runner’s knee, experts suggest that a decrease in running activity is an important step in both recovery and preventing further injury. Depending on the degree of pain, runners should cut back on their mileage, stop strenuous hill training, or temporarily switch to swimming or a stationary bike. A number of exercises have also been shown to treat runner’s knee, including stretching, hip strengthening, and quadriceps strengthening.
There is evidence that many exercises could be beneficial in preventing runner’s knee. To strengthen your quadriceps, forward lunges and single leg squats are recommended. For hip strengthening, isometric hip abduction can be done (described below). Finally, any number of stretches for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves could be useful.
To perform an isometric hip abduction exercise, stand with your right shoulder against the wall. Then, bend your right knee at 90 degrees—both of your thighs should be parallel with your right foot in the air behind you. Next, press outward towards the wall with the side of your right knee, pushing against the wall for 5-10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10-15 times with each leg.
Pushing through the pain of runner’s knee could lead to more serious injury or pain that lingers for months, even years. It may be beneficial to run on softer surfaces or visit a running store to make sure you have the proper running shoe. See your doctor for severe or chronic cases, as physical therapy, foot orthotics, or further intervention may be necessary.