What is runners knee? Runners knee is a condition that affects the knee and is noticed during or following running. There are two conditions that can be termed as runners knee.
1. Iliotibial Friction Syndrome
This condition results in pain on the outside of the knee.
The injury is a result of the iliotibial band (the band of fascia on the outside of the leg) irritating its attachment point at the outside of the knee. This creates a soreness in the area as a result of the friction created. This is the more common condition termed as ‘runners knee’. It is very common and almost exclusive to running.
2. Patella Tendinitis
This condition results in pain across or below the kneecap.
The injury is a result of excessive force being applied to the patella tendon (the tendon that crosses the front of the kneecap). This can commonly be as a result of an issue at the quadriceps, hamstrings or glutes. This is commonly referred to as jumpers knee but is also termed ‘runners knee’ due to its common occurrence n runners.
What causes runners knee?
Runners knee (no matter which of the above conditions) is an overuse injury. This means that pain occurs after a period of doing something slightly wrong for an extended period of time.
It is important to remember that it isn’t really the knees fault. The knee is being ‘picked on’ by other areas that are creating excessive force at the knee.
There is usually a tightness and/or a weakness in one or some of the structures that cross the knee. This tightness and/or weakness creates an issue at the knee that results in damage and pain.
How to remove runners knee?
There are two main objectives.
1.Settle the pain and symptoms. This can be achieved by allowing a period of rest (this can be active rest with exercise such as swimming, cycling) and the use of ice as an anti-inflammatory for five-ten minute intervals.
2. (And most importantly) to find the cause and correct it. The first step would be to assess your flexibility of both the hip and ankle (both joints affect the knee). If you find a tightness in some muscle’s structures (hot spots are thighs, glutes, hamstrings and calves) it is important to address these with stretching and rolling. Please see our first video below on key stretches and a video on rolling produced by our partner Jon W Sports Injury (fully qualified and experienced sports therapist)
The second step would be to assess your strength at both the hip and ankle. Running places large demands on the body and it is important to ensure that you have sufficient strength. A lack of strength can lead to dysfunction and the knee can suffer as a result. More information available in the videos below.