The Scoop on Runner’s Knee
The knee might be one of the most frustrating joints for runners because of how necessary it is and how easily it is injured. Runner’s Knee (or Cyclist’s Knee) is a common injury for both runners and cyclists and is a general expression that lumps together repetitive and overuse injuries.
How Do You Get Runner’s Knee?
Runner’s Knee injuries can be attributed to malalignments and structural asymmetries of the lower leg and foot such as leg length discrepancies or even unsupported arches. These injuries can also happen from running on a sloped road, not stretching thoroughly, or even just the way you naturally run. Because your body is all connected everything is affected, and so these small discrepancies can cause an injury at your knee if you aren’t careful. Some of these injuries are patellar tendinitis, iliotibial band friction syndrome, and tendinitis or bursitis at the attachment point for your inner thigh muscles.
Runner’s Knee Symptoms
The most obvious symptom is pain. If you are a runner knee pain should not be normal. The pain that accompanies Runner’s Knee can be multiple places but is commonly below or even behind the knee cap. It may also be more painful to bend the knee and you might have some swelling or even popping and grinding. Because Runner’s Knee encompasses multiple overuse injuries, you won’t have all the symptoms and they may vary.
Runner’s Knee Treatment – How to Treat Runner’s Knee
Before you self treat, you should go see a doctor to get an accurate evaluation and diagnosis. There are some very severe injuries that can happen to your knee and getting correct treatment right away is the best thing.
In the meantime, you should treat your knee with RICE!
Rest: Take a break from running. If you are able, cross training is your best option. So take some laps in the pool, but don’t bike because it won’t give your knee that break that it’s looking for.
Ice: Apply ice to your knee frequently, especially following any type of exercise. You should apply ice for about 20 minutes every hour. Make sure that you’re giving your tissues that break in between though because too much ice can actually cause more damage.
Compression: Compression is especially helpful to move that swelling out of the joint. Wrap an elastic wrap, like an ACE bandage, starting from about 4 inches below your knee to end 4 inches above the joint. Wrap it in a spiral fashion with the wrap overlapping by about half the width of the wrap so that the skin is completely covered.
Elevate: Elevation also helps to move swelling out of the injured joint. You can easily elevate your leg by propping up your foot on a pillow while you are icing.
Once you’ve given your knees that much needed break for a few days, you are welcome to begin some Runner’s Knee exercises coupled with some Runner’s Knee stretches. These should focus on strengthening and stretching the muscles around the knee.
Exercises for Runner’s Knee
A great exercise is the seated leg raise. While seated with your legs extended in front of you, raise one leg up over 12 inches then lower it back down. Perform this with your leg first rotated outwards, then inwards, and in neutral. Progress to where you can add weights to your ankles.
Stretches for Runner’s Knee
Stretches should mainly target the hamstrings and quadriceps. Here are a few good stretches to help increase your flexibility.
Standing Quad Stretch: While standing, bring one foot up behind you and grasp your ankle with your hand. Pull your ankle towards your butt while keeping that same hip pressed forward.
Lying Quad Stretch: Lie on your left side and perform the same action as the standing quad stretch on your right leg. Make sure that your knee and leg are parallel to the floor and keep your hip pressed forward. You may feel a slight pull on the outside of your knee suggesting that your iliotibial band is tight.
Cross-over Toe Touch: While standing, cross your ankles and bend to touch your toes with your front knee bent. You should feel the stretch in the hip of the back leg. To get a deeper stretch you may need to push your hip out sideways so your back leg is angled rather than straight up and down. This stretch will help with a tight iliotibial band.
Another great way to increase your flexibility and loosen up tight muscles (or a tight iliotibial band) is by rolling out on a foam roller. Make sure to only roll above and below the knee; do not roll across the knee joint.
When Can I Run Again?
You can return to normal activity after you are cleared by your doctor or when you are pain free! That means that you can bend and straighten your knee without pain and even run or jog without pain. You should also have equal strength in both legs. It’s best to progress slowly, especially if you are unsure about returning to your workout, and if you have a runner’s knee brace, then now is the time to wear it!
How Do I Prevent Runner’s Knee? – Tips On How To Treat Your Body Right While Running
-Avoid running on hard surfaces like concrete.
-Replace your worn out shoes.
-Wear orthotics or arch supports.
-When you feel pain, stop! It’s your body saying something is wrong!
-Maintain a healthy body weight.
-Do not rapidly increase your exercise amount.
Overall it’s about treating your body right. It’s an amazing creation but just like everything else, if we don’t take care of it then things stop working properly. And we don’t want that no do we?