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How to avoid Runner’s Knee

One in four runners will experience knee pain throughout their running career. One of the most common causes of that pain is due to patellofemoral pain. This comes about when there is a misalignment between the tracking between the femur and the patella. The potential for injury is great; with running placing up to five times the force of the body through the knee.

The patella is a very important bone. It is classified as a “sesamoid” bone, which is a bone that is located inside a tendon. In the case of the patella, it is found embedded within the tendon of the quadriceps muscle. Any contraction of the quadriceps will cause the patella to pull up as the knee extends.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome comes about usually with running, or with activities that involve a significant amount of bending at the knee joint – jumping, walking up stairs, and squatting.

The patella normally tracks through a cartilage-lined section of the femur bone known as the patella surface. The pull of the patella should be reasonably straight. There are a number of conditions, however, that may cause the tracking of the patella to take off to the side, which can cause compressive force and pain.

There has been some question as to whether it is incorrect movement of the patella, or incorrect movement of the femur which causes the misalignment. Weakness in the hip muscles, or weakness in the quadriceps muscle can cause either an abnormal rotation of the femur, or an abnormal pull to one side of the patella, respectively. Female runners are more predisposed to patellofemoral pain as their hips are generally anatomically wider. This may place the femur at a greater angle at the knee when compared to a male’s femur angle.

One in four runners will experience knee pain throughout their running career

One in four runners will experience knee pain throughout their running career.

What role does the foot play?

An excessive rolling in movement (pronation) of the foot can cause patellofemoral pain.  The alignment and movement of the foot can actually cause the knee to turn inward. This causes an increased risk of the patella tracking incorrectly on the femur.

Treatment for patellofemoral pain usually requires a few strategies. Muscle strength at the hip and knee plays an important role; appropriate strengthening and stretching exercises are required to correct deficiencies. In addition, footwear and the mechanics of the feet need to be considered. Orthotics are beneficial in reducing painful symptoms by correcting the excessive pronation.  Other physiological issues that the foot may contribute to is patella tendinopathies to which physiotherapy exercises will complement rehabilitation.

To obtain whether your biomechanics have a possible influence on your knee pain, call Pivotal Motion Podiatry or Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy today for an appointment.