One of the most common injuries from running has a justifiably thematic name. Runner’s knee—officially called Patellofemoral pain syndrome—tends to develop over time. It may start as a dull aching behind the kneecap that only shows up when running. But, left untreated, runner’s knee in runners can worsen in intensity and frequency.
In many of the cases, runner’s knee is due to a lack of proper conditioning. Like any and all athletes, runners should practice their sport with a carefully researched routine in mind. For instance, a basketball player shouldn’t go straight from sitting to playing at full throttle. If that happens, he or she is likely to hurt him or herself in the process. Having a consistent warm up routine is absolutely necessary for athletes. A lack thereof is a common cause for torn muscles or injuries like runner’s knee.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is caused by an irritation at the kneecap and the thighbone. This irritation itself comes from a straining, pulling or stress placed on the knee cap. Tight muscles can contribute to this strain. In theory, one’s body should be able to protect the kneecap by supporting it. The quadriceps are like a knee’s best friend, and the stronger they are, the safer the knee will be during exercise and physical activity. Thus, runners should make it a priority to both stretch the legs thoroughly before each workout, and to strengthen the quadriceps as part of a regular routine.
Some runners are more prone to runner’s knee than others. Women, for instance, are twice as likely to get runner’s knee. This is because a woman’s hips are typically built wider than a man’s. This causes the thigh bones to sit at more of an angle, which makes for a strain on the knees more likely. Both men and women with either flat feet or high arches can be more prone to runner’s knee because both of these conditions affect the alignment of the knees and the legs. For instance, flat feet may cause the knees to turn out slightly. This means physical activity may put pressure on the kneecaps at odd angles. Runners with worn cartilage or runners who have suffered from a previous knee injury are also more likely to feel irritation and soreness from runner’s knee.
Even while runner’s knee in runners may feel unavoidable, there are some precautions that runners can take to decrease their vulnerability. First and foremost, runners need to make sure that they are fit with the proper, supportive shoes for their specific feet and running style. Amateur runners will especially benefit from visiting a runner’s store. There, a specialist can look at your feet and recommend the best running shoe for you. Proper support can make a huge difference in the support your knees get when running.
In addition to adding in effective stretching and conditioning, other aspects of your running routine may also need revamped. Are you running on steep hills or rough terrain? Are you changing your route from one extreme to another on a regular basis? Both of these habits can make runner’s knee more likely. Hill running and rough terrain can be good, but your body often needs a transition period. Be sure that the changes you intend to make on your routine are gradual and gentle. Your kneecaps will thank you for that!