What Is Runner's Knee?

What is runners knee? If you are a runner you might have experienced the condition called runner's knee. Learn what it is and how it is treated!

If you are a runner you might have experienced the condition called runner's knee. But, as with tennis elbow, running is not the only reason you might experience this condition. In the normal human body the kneecap, which is also known as the patella, will move up or down slightly without touching the femur or thighbone when a person is running. This is because the impact of the body weight is evenly distributed on the foot. But in cases where the foot rolls inward the kneecap is pulled inward. When this occurs the quadricep muscles will naturally pull the kneecap outward. These two opposing forces will cause the kneecap to rub against the thighbone which results in the diagnosis of runner's knee.

The kneecaps are circular bones that are attached to ligaments and tendons around the knee. If the kneecap is located too high in the knee joint, which is called patella alta, or the hamstrings are too tight a person can develop runner's knee. Other structural defects that might cause this condition include Achilles tendons that are too tight and weakened thigh muscles. In most cases the thigh muscles will help stabilize the knee but when the muscles are weak the feet will pull in excessively. This structural defect is called pronation and it affects the knee whether the person is walking or running. The result of this condition is pain and occasional swelling that is concentrated on the underside of the kneecap. In most cases the onset will be noticed while the person who is affected is running. When the pain begins it will only be noticed while running downhill. Over time the pain will be noticeable during any running and if not treated it will eventually be felt during any leg movement and especially when walking down stairs or inclines.

Runner's knee, which is also known as patello-femoral stress syndrome, will eventually go away if the person who is affected refrains from running until it can be done without pain. During this time other exercises that are not painful can be continued. Some of the better exercises that are acceptable during this time might include swimming, rowing and bike riding, but only if no pain is present. It is also very important during this time to do exercises that will stretch the muscles in the hamstring and quadriceps or front of the thighs. This will help to strengthen the vastus medialis, which is the inner thigh muscle that pulls the kneecap inward. Using arch supports in both work out shoes and street shoes has also been known to help. If possible have the shoe supports custom made to help correct this condition.

There are several exercises that are helpful to strengthen the hamstring and vastus medialis muscles while the injury heals. Begin by attaching a five-pound weight to the foot on the injured side. Lie face down on a bed with the lower half of the body hanging off the bed. The toes should be touching on the floor. With knees straight slowly raise and lower the leg. Do three sets of ten every other day to strengthen the hamstring. To strengthen the vastus medialis muscle you should stand with knees straight and contract the quadriceps or muscles in the front of the thighs. While doing this raise the kneecaps and hold for a count of ten before relaxing. This should be done frequently each day. If you have a personal trainer ask about other therapeutic exercises you can do to relieve this condition.

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