Runner’s Knee, also known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, is a very common injury among runners. Rest is usually the best (and fastest) way to heal from most running injuries. And as much as runners hate to stop running, if you are experiencing any type of pain while running, please stop and see your doctor. If you haven’t already, see your doctor to confirm it is in fact Runner’s Knee and not something else. Once your doctor diagnoses it as Runner's Knee, he may suggest rest, cross-training or to cut back on your mileage.
Three ways to avoid and help treat Runner’s Knee include strength training, stretching and foam rolling. Some causes of Runner's Knee include imbalances in the kinetic chain, weak quads or hip abductors, poor running form, as well as issues with hamstring flexibility. By strengthen your thigh and glute muscles, you have a better chance of healing faster and preventing Runner’s Knee in the future. Stretching and foam rolling can help loosen tight thigh muscles that may be contributing to your injury. However, if you experience any type of pain during strength training or stretching exercises, stop immediately. Another useful, complementary treatment that may help you heal faster is using a knee brace or kinesiology tape in order to support the knee.
If you do decide to run while suffering from Runner’s Knee, here are a few tips to keep in mind that might help prevent your injury from becoming worse:
-Go easy on the hills/stairs. If you do run a hill, shorten your stride. Think quick, short steps.
-If you are experiencing pain, avoid exercises that work the knee a lot. For example, avoid doing squats, lunges, stair stepping, etc.
-Run on softer surfaces. Take a break from pounding the pavement and move to a treadmill or a light trail.
-Stay away from uneven surfaces. If you run trails, make sure it is flat and well groomed to prevent aggravating the knee even further.
-Consider seeing a podiatrist to be fitted for a custom orthotic or finding an over-the-counter insole that will help correct any potential imbalances or foot issues you may have.
Allowing your knee to heal for a week or two (yes, by not running) might be the fastest way to heal. It is worth noting that you will not lose much in the way of fitness by taking a break from running for only a week or two. However, for the long term, it is extremely important to incorporate a consistent strength training routine into your schedule. This will help prevent not only Runner's Knee, but many other injuries from happening in the future. You may want to seek a professional to help come up with a program that works best for you.
For more information about Runner's Knee, make sure to check out our in depth guide here that will help answer any additional questions you may have! Have a speedy recovery!