The weather has cooled down and the transition from fall to winter is officially upon us. Everywhere you look outside you see people out training for running events. Ten milers, 5Ks, Turkey Trots, and marathons are becoming more and more popular. One of the most common injuries to a runner is “runner’s knee” or patellofemoral pain syndrome. Knee injuries occur about 40 percent of the time from running. Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) typically causes localized knee pain that occurs after extended periods of sitting, during or after long runs, descending stairs and hills, and squatting. The development of patellofemoral pain syndrome can be attributed to a variety of biomechanical issues. Putting an extra load on the knee is typically due to poor mechanics. Those at a higher risk for developing patellofemoral pain syndrome may include individuals that have weak quadriceps or gluteals, over pronate during running, inadequate stretching.
You can run through the pain but it may exacerbate your symptoms. It is suggested to take extra rest days between long runs or decreasing running mileage. Uphill running may help alleviate the onset of PFPS and require activation of gluteal muscles. In addition, strengthening your gluteal muscles help control your hip and knee movement and prevent excessive wear on the knee. If the pain does not subside, a physical therapist can provide interventions to help improve body mechanics during running, utilize athletic taping, and provide rehabilitation to reduce your pain. Physical therapy can help improve running technique to help prevent a relapse. Shortening your stride length and contacting the ground with a slight knee bend can decrease the load on the knee.
To help prevent the onset of PFPS, it is suggested individuals stay in shape and overall good general conditioning level. Additionally, it is important to have a consistent stretching routine. It is best to do a 5 minute warm up followed by a stretching routine. When training for races, increase your training gradually while avoiding a sudden increase in intensity level of exercise.
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