Runner's Knee: Who is at Risk and How to Prevent it

This is a guest post by Elizabeth Wangari.

As an athlete, jumping, pivoting sports or jogging is standard practice. While at it, you could experience tenderness and dull pain behind your kneecap (anterior knee pain). Also, squatting or running downhill increases the discomfort, all who are symptoms of “runner’s knee” – patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Runner’s knee pain is due to higher subchondral bone stress due to articulation stress or the abrasions on your distal femur or patella.
Here’s the deal: Today I’m going to discuss the significant strategies that I believe can
prevent the occurrence of runner’s knee. Also, I’ll share how you can get back after a runners knee incidence.

What Causes Runner's Knee?

Trauma, knee overuse, hip muscle dysfunction, patellar malalignment, and other intrinsic risk factors are the significant contributors to patellofemoral pain syndrome. Other potential causes include tightness of the iliotibial band, quadriceps, and hamstrings, weak core-muscle endurance. Recent research shows that over 50% of running injuries, particularly ones in lower extremities, happen in the knee.

How to Prevent Runner's Knee

If the runner’s knee is diagnosed early enough, the proper short-term remedy can include RICE technique – rest; ice; compression; and elevation, plus other corrective exercises. For most people, runner’s knee can be prevented by having excellent flexibility, strong muscles, and adequately fitted running shoes. However, if you’re unsure of finding a proper running shoe, you should book professional gait analysis or shoe fitting services.

1. Strengthen Your Gluteus Medius
One key method to determine presence of muscle imbalance is checking your squat.
Therefore, if you notice that your knee is turning inward, you could be having a weak gluteus medius (hip abductor muscle).
Gluteus medius forms part of three muscles making the gluteals. Together with the gluteus minimus, your Gluteus medius contract to rotate your hip internally stabilizing the pelvis and the femur.
To prevent Runner's Knee, you’ll need to focus on increased mobility, flexibility and strength on your hips. The Journal of Athletic Health reports that about 3 weeks of hip-strengthening exercise can help you reduce pain from runner’s knee. Thus, it’s worth a try! Therefore, we’ll need to select about 4 simple exercises that you can take weekly to prevent or reduce pain related to runner’s knee.
a. Side leg lifts - While lying on your lefty side, stack your legs on top of each other and straighten then. Rest you left hand on the ground or on your hip and rest your head at the top of the right arm to help stabilize your body.
Next, lift the leg on top straight to the farthest comfortable height and lower it back to its
place. Repeat the exercise 10 times, and then change sides.
b. Hip abduction - While standing, open your feet at a distance shoulder-wide and have a strong post or chair to left side of your body. Loop some resistance band around your right ankle and the post or chair.

Next, maintain your leg in the straight position, raise the right leg sideways to the farthest you feel comfortable. Finally, return the leg to its initial position, and report 10 times before switching sides.
c. Glute bridges - Lie on the ground, on your back, and place your arms on your sides. Bend you knees and rest the feet flat on the ground. Next, you’ll lift the back from the ground up to a point where you create a straight line from the shoulders to the knees.
Push the heel to the ground and feel the glutes that are balancing your body. Stay in this
position for 3 seconds, and then lower your body, and finally repeat 8 times.
2. Change footwear - Going down the kinetic chain to your foot, let’s examine the role of footwear in knee pain. Notably, having footwear that won’t appropriately support your feet can aggravate the knee injury. This phenomenon is common among both the underpronaters (inadequate ankle and foot roling) and overpronaters (excessive ankle and foot rolling). Therefore, ensure that you get footware that will cushion the underpornators or support the overpronators. Usually, underpronation pain happens at the outside of your knee around the IT Band attachment. However, overpronation pain occurs at the bottom or along the inside of your knee.
3. Running stride - Even though you might keep stretching, strengthening and having the right footwear, there is a possibility your knee could still have some problems. Therefore, you’ll need to consider your training surface and plan as well as your running stride.
Notwithstanding the increased flexibility and good strength, over-striding may triggers knee pain. Therefore, you’ll need to place your body in an efficient position to take advantage of your flexibility and strength. It’ll also be helpful to adopt adequate progression in your training to strengthen and heel any broken down tissues. Therefore, you’ll need to gradually increase the intensity, frequency and run mileage. Notably, if you’ll be running or jogging do not increase your mileage by over 10% per week.


Despite that come people choose to use devices such as knee sleeves or a Tendon Trak, I would advise that you first concentrate on treating the underlying causes of the runner’s knee.