Runner’s Knee : Running Injuries

The knee joint is the biggest joint in the body and can get injured very easily. Knee injuries are very common in running and are often caused by the knee becoming weakened through overuse.

The Knee Joint Explained

The Knee Joint joins the patella (kneecap) to the lower part of the femur (thighbone) and upper end of the tibia (shinbone). It is a hinge joint that works in conjunction with the hamstrings and quadriceps (thigh muscles) to bend and flex the leg.

What is Runner’s Knee?

Runner’s Knee is so-called because it is such a common injury in running. It refers to Ilio Tibial Band Friction Syndrome (ITBFS), which affects about 10% of runners at some point. Overexerting the knee joint can prevent it from moving smoothly through the femoral groove (the groove that the kneecap runs through), which causes friction. It is usually caused by over-training and can be aggravated by over-pronation. When the body is overworked it cannot repair itself as quickly, making injury more likely. Running downhill tends to aggravate Runner’s Knee because the knee does not flex as much, which puts more tension on the Ilio Tibial Band. Sprinting or running fast on the other hand, increases knee flexion and is less likely to cause Runner’s Knee.

What are the Symptoms of Runner’s Knee?

There will be pain and swelling on the outer side of the knee, which may spread up the thigh or down the outer part of the shin. Usually the runner will only feel pain when exercising and it will subside when they stop. Although, sometimes sufferers will find it painful when going up or down stairs.

Preventing Runner’s Knee

Because it is often caused by over-pronation, wearing insoles that support the arches of the feet will help to reduce the risk of sustaining this injury. Runner’s Knee is exacerbated by over-training, so you should build up your mileage gradually, rather than rapidly increasing the amount of running you do.

Treating Runner’s Knee

Swelling and pain can be reduced with ice packs and anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by a doctor in the initial stages. When the pain has subsided, a course of physiotherapy should be undertaken to strengthen the knee and return it to its correct alignment. The physiotherapist will try to identify the underlying cause of the injury and give you appropriate exercises to do.

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