I’ll Take Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome) Instead of Corrective Exercise Please

Runner’s knee is not about pain in the knee from running.

It’s estimated that up to 70 percent of runners experience an overuse injury each year and about half of those injuries occur in the knee.

Preventing runner’s knee is about the alignment and function of the entire body or kinetic chain. Ever heard the expression that a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link?

Runner’s knee is about the ankle not moving like it should and the hip not controlling the femur like it should.

Let’s focus on the hip today okay?

“The hip muscles are responsible for stabilizing the leg during running,” according to lead researcher Dr. Reed Ferber, of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada-courtesy of Amy Norton and her article

Weak hips may lead to runners’ lower-leg injuries

More from Amy’s article “If, for example, the hip abductors — muscles at the outer hip — are weak, this allows the knee to roll too far inward, toward the midline of the body. That, Ferber explained, can set runners up for patellofemoral pain syndrome, which causes pain under and around the kneecap, or iliotibial band syndrome, where pain arises in the outside of the knee.”

So what do people do? Rest? Ice? Compression? Elevation?

Buy the latest sports medicine strap or gizmo to deal with the SYMPTOM?

I think R.I.C.E. is a great approach for a fresh injury and straps and wraps can suppress pain to allow one to compete through pain…but the do not address the CAUSEALIGNMENT AND FUNCTION.

When the glute is weak the TFL grabs on to the ITB and aggravates the kneecap, making it track laterally, pain will follow! The weak VMO is part of the equation, but that is like saying the little old lady walking the poodle started the riot…she may be in it with 99 other people, but she was not the catalyst.

Typical scenario…we sit on our rears, wear high heels or high heels disguised as sneakers…

..then take our tight hip flexors and calves out for some jogging and the TFL muscle puts a choke hold on the knee cap trying to do the work of the glute (which has usually been asleep for a good 10-20 years) then after a 5K or two…whoops! What do you know! Runner’s knee! I must need to take some Advil and buy a wrap to put on my knee, or better yet, sneakers with a BIGGER heel so I can keep running. Proper sneakers are important…but not enough.

This then leads to more knee pain or the knee feels better and low back pain, headaches or shoulder pain pop up out of nowhere or get blamed on their new lifting program or having to paint the trim in the kitchen.

A corrective exercise specialist would perform an integrated assessment, spot the weak glutes in the picture above and address the imbalance before the pain and time on the shelf.

Amy reports what we have know for years…

“In other research, Ferber and his colleagues have found that six weeks of hip-muscle training can alleviate pain from various running injuries in most patients. The researchers are currently studying whether such strength training also prevents overuse injuries.”

It would help a whle lot faster if they tired this too…

If you are a runner, or simply like to move..then integrate corrective exercise into your program for faster results now and less pain later.

Thanks for reading, please take care of yourself and be proactive, and let me know if I can help!

Eric Beard
Athletic Performance Enhancement Specialist
Corrective Exercise Specialist

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This entry was posted in injury prevention, ITB Syndrome, runner's knee, running shoes. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. marciahbock
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Awesome as usual!!!

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