12 Helpful Tips for Treating and Preventing Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee is a common ailment that can affect runners of all skill levels. Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a phrase used to describe a number of various ailments affecting the knee. It’s one of the most common injuries caused by high impact activities like running.
Here, we cover a wide range of runner’s knee treatment options including tips for prevention.
What Are The Symptoms?
Runner’s knee can lead to mild pain throughout the kneecap. It can also lead to swelling, restricted motion, and cracking and popping. The pain often becomes worse during and after high impact motion—like running, exercising, or other bending activities. It can also worsen over time.
What Are The Causes?
Runner’s knee can occur for a wide variety of reasons. The most common causes are:
- Muscle Weakness
- Muscle Tightness
- Incorrect Shoes
- Incorrect Equipment
- Foot Issues
- Improper Form
- Direct Trauma
The causes are not mutually exclusive; often runner’s knee is caused by multiple issues. Treating runner’s knee starts with understanding the injury—was it caused by improper technique, improper equipment, overuse, lack of strength or stretching? Identifying the cause will help determine your treatment and prevention plan.
5 Tips To Treat Runner’s Knee
Good rehab and a solid runner’s knee treatment plan will help you successfully manage your issue and get back on track. Using a combination of these 5 treatments will help you speed up the recovery process.
1. Rest, Rest, and More Rest
The best treatment for any mild sports injury is rest—and runner’s knee is no different. If you begin to feel irritation in a knee, take a break from high impact activities. Don’t rush it. Allow your body to do its job and heal itself.
2. Ice Therapy
There’s a reason you see professional athletes with bags of ice taped to their knees after games and events. Ice therapy can help reduce swelling and pain in the knees. Ice your knees for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day for a brief period to speed up recovery. Consider the ICE20 Ice Therapy compression wrap for a high quality cold therapy solution.
3. Compression Sleeves
Elastic bandages and compression knee sleeves, such as the Bauerfeind Genutrain Elastic Knee Brace compression knee support trainer are a great runner’s knee treatment option. Compression sleeves work by providing support for veins and the lymphatic system. These comfortably tight, form-fitting sleeves can improve the rate of blood and fluid flow, which improves recovery time and aids in the healing process. Knee straps, such as the ProCare Surround Patella Strap, are another potential solution, as these applies pressure directly to the patella tendon for a more targeted treatment that may also be less obtrusive when worn.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Medicine
Taking drugs to treat a sports injury should be handled with care—even with mild analgesics like Ibuprofen. They can be quite useful in treating pain during treatment, but can mask injuries and lead to a worsening condition if used improperly.
Anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage pain and reduce selling associated with runner’s knee. These are best used after exercise to reduce the chance of further injury.
Make sure to consult your physician prior to taking any medications to avoid potential complications.
5. Resume Slowly
When you have successfully finished your runner’s knee treatment, it’s time to get back on your feet. But do so slowly. In very mild cases you may be back on your feet in just a few days treatment, but full recovery often takes anywhere from a month to several months to complete.
When you do resume—take it easy. Start slow, don’t over exert your knees, and listen to your body.
If these runner’s knee treatments don’t work or your injury continues to worsen, it may be time to see a doctor. Minor and mild injuries will improve with proper treatment and time. However, some injuries may require more extreme treatment. If pain persists or conditions worsen you should seek a full medical evaluation.
7 Tips To Prevent Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee is a terrible injury. It can sideline you for weeks and spring up when you least expect it. Here are some tips on how to prevent runner’s knee from happening or from happening again.
1. Strength Training
The best prevention of runner’s knee is strength training. That’s because strong, balanced leg muscles create a strong and balanced leg. A balanced leg is less likely to move in a misaligned manner.
A strengthened core and back will help align your spine and upper body. Strong glutes, flexible hips, and powerful thighs will keep your upper leg in line.
Strong ankles, calves, and feet keep your lower leg aligned and create a proper foot strike. A strong, stable, centered body moves in proper alignment, preventing injury from occurring and reducing the chance of re-injury.
While your muscles need to be strong, they also need to be flexible and pliable. This is where stretching comes in. Stretching is a great way to maintain proper knee health. Stretching improves flexibility, which helps prevent muscle tear, nerve damage, and ligament strain.
Stretch to loosen up before running. Adding yoga to your runner’s knee treatment routine can help keep your muscles stretched, long, lean, and strong.
3. Take It Easy
A common cause of runner’s knee is overuse. Running is a high impact exercise and your body needs time to recover after every run. Taking days off to give your body rest is not only good prevention for runner’s knee, it’s also the proper way to strengthen your body and prevent injury.
4. Use Proper Equipment
Running equipment protects your body from injury and can even help train your body to make properly aligned movements.
Knee braces for running protect and strengthen your knee during use and during recovery. If are not sure which knee brace is good for running, then consult anyone from a doctor to a track or cross country coach, and they’ll point you in the right direction.
5. Wear Proper Shoes
Using the right shoe for your running style and your preferred running surface is one of the most fundamental runner’s knee treatment options around. Choosing a shoe that is designed to alleviate knee issues may help you avoid injury. These shoes often provide better arch support, better cushioning, and better shock absorption.
6. Run on Proper Running Surfaces
The surface you run on can add additional stress on your knees. Hard surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt, increase the impact of running. Softer surfaces, like dirt trails, grass, or synthetic track offer better cushioning and shock absorption for your knees.
7. Practice Sound Running Mechanics
Proper running form not only helps you perform, it will help you avoid injury. Consulting a professional on style, foot strike, leg stroke and other mechanics such as posture will help you develop sound running mechanics.
Trust Your Body
Only you know what your body feels like. If your knee hurts, your body is trying to tell you something. Listen to it. Make proper adjustments, give yourself time to rest and heal before resuming your training. An effective runner’s knee treatment and prevention plan can alleviate knee pain and help you get back on your feet again.