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What Is Runner’s Knee?

Runner’s Knee is part of our running injuries season where we are focusing on the top 5 running injuries in detail. Giving you weekly info on what it is, why runners get it, the current gold standard treatment and top tips on the best exercises.

What is Runner’s Knee?

Runner's Knee

Runner’s Knee, or to give it it’s medical term, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) can account for close to a third of all running related injuries among recreational runners. Also described as ‘anterior knee pain’ or ‘cinema goers knee’. It is pain derived from the lining of the Patellofemoral (kneecap) joint.

Your kneecap actually sits within your quadriceps (thigh) tendon, gliding up and down on the trochlea groove at the end your femur (thigh bone) when you straighten and bend the knee. Usually this happens smoothly as there is a slippery, shiny bit of cartilage between the bones helping to absorb the force. It’s actually the thickest bit of articular cartilage in your entire body. Importantly, it transmits huge forces on a daily basis. However, when this cartilage gets overloaded and rubs too much it can get irritated causing inflammation to the synovial (inside) lining of the joint causing Runner’s Knee symptoms.

What is it?
Patellofemoral (Kneecap) Joint with synovial lining highlighted

Symptoms typically include a vague ache, or discomfort at the front of the knee, often felt with ‘crepitus’ (a clicking or grinding sensation that can be heard on certain movements). Pain at the front of the knee while running tends to be worse during the start the of the run, eases as you get going but then can return with increasing distances. Walking downstairs, and hills are often worse, as well as sitting for prolonged periods in cramped spaces, hence the term ‘cinema goers knee’. Pain during running and pain after running are common.

Why Do Runners Get It?

As we mentioned in our previous Runner’s Hub blogs there are 3 key elements that make up an efficient, injury free runner:

  1. Form
  2. Condition
  3. Regime

Commonly if there is a fault in just 1 element this can increase the risk of Runner’s Knee symptoms. Our Run Lab assessment is suitable for runners of any level. It aims to spot these faults before they even become a problem. A few common technique and control faults are shown below:

The most common cause of Runner’s Knee includes over training or simply doing too much, too soon. Look out for our upcoming blogs. We will be giving you some simple, golden tips on how to tailor your training to help prevent Runner’s Knee.

Finally, a very well referenced cause for Runner’s Knee symptoms is poor footwear. Its vital that your trainer fits to you, not you fitting to the trainer! We highly recommend our local partners at Up & Running, Sheffield.

Next weeks blog looks at What Is The Best Runner’s Knee Treatment? Treatment techniques such as taping for knee pain, and foam rolling for knee pain will be discussed.

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