Patellofemoral pain is the most common overuse injury among runners. It is generally referred to as “runner’s knee.”
Causes for the condition vary:
- Incorrect alignment of the knee cap
- Worn cartilage in the knee joint
- High arched feet or flat feet
- Muscle strength (weakness) or imbalance
- Repeated knee bending
Runner’s knee symptoms include tenderness behind or around the kneecap, a sense of cracking, a sensation that the knee is “giving out,” and pain when going up or down stairs. It can affect one or both knees and has a greater occurrence in women than men.
To help prevent runner’s knee, consider these tips in your training:
- Keep activity increases to less than 10 percent per week
- Run on softer surfaces
- Gradually increase hill work
- Wear proper shoes
- Strengthen quadriceps and hip muscles while stretching hamstrings and calf muscles
- Participate in non-impact activities such as swimming and biking
Should runner’s knee occur, treatment may include taping of the kneecap in an ideal position by a sports medicine professional, wearing a kneecap supportive brace and icing to control symptoms. In extreme situations, a surgical procedure may be necessary to correct a biomechanical problem such as incorrect alignment of the kneecap.
A sports medicine professional can provide an evaluation to help determine an appropriate course of treatment and future prevention.
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