what is runner's knee?
Runner's knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome - PFPS) is pain that originates at the front of the knee joint. It is one of the most common running injuries but thankfully responds well to treatment. The pain originates from soft tissue structures directly around around the patella (knee cap). It is positoned closely to another common running conditon called Illiotibial band friction syndrome (ITB friction syndrome) but the origns of the painful structures are different.
what causes runner's knee?
Runner's knee is caused by an increased load that is placed upon the structures around the patella. This ofen happens when there has been an increase in training volume, intensity, speed work or more downhill running. Additionally there may be biomechanical issues that cause the knee to be more susceptible to developing runner's knee e.g an inward turning knee caused by weak glutes. There are also running technique errors that can contribute to PFPS, the most common is overstriding (too long a stride length) and is picked up during gait analysis video recording.
treatment for runner's knee
The most important thing to do is to settle your knee symptoms (initially ice and rest may be necessary if the pain is severe). The best way to do this is by adjusting the type, frequency and intensity of your running. Putting less force through your knee will reduce the irritation and in turn the pain. Strength issues around the quadriceps, gluteal muscles and calf can contribute to this problem so addressing these along with any running technique issues will help you return to the level of running you are aiming for.