All about the runner’s knee

Runner’s knee is a common overuse injury that typically affects runners and cyclists. It’s an inflammation of the patella tendon, which attaches the kneecap to the shin bone. The patella sits in front of the knee joint and acts as a pulley for your quadriceps muscle as it extends your leg.

Causes of runner’s knee

A person holding a surf board

Runners often experience a burning or aching pain behind their kneecaps. This is because the patella tendon can become irritated from overuse, causing tiny tears in your cartilage and swelling at the bottom of your thigh bone. In serious cases, it may even rupture completely! The pressure from running, cycling or even walking can also put stress on your kneecap while it moves back and forth in its groove. Repetitive movement of the patella while it’s not tracking properly may lead to excess strain which can irritate your tendon.

Who is at risk of Runner’s knee?

A person lying on a table

Runner’s knee affects women more often than men, due to the wider pelvis and different structures of their hip.

Symptoms of runners knee

Treatment for runner’s knee at home: Runner’s knee is not only uncomfortable but it can also be extremely painful, especially when doing everyday activities like walking or just sitting down for too long.

Try these simple tips to ease your pain now!

1. Ice it down

Apply a cold pack or a bag of frozen peas to your knee for no more than 20 minutes, three times a day to reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort. You can also take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen to help with the swelling.

2. Elevate your legs

Elevating your legs while resting can help reduce swelling and pain in your knees. Prop them on a chair, pillow, or stack of books to elevate them higher than your heart. This reduces the amount of pressure that blood exerts on your knee at rest, which can reduce pain when sitting or walking around.

3. Stretch it out

Your patella tendon can benefit from some stretching too! Try this simple stretch to relieve tension in your knee and ease symptoms of the runner’s knee. While sitting, loop a resistance band around the bottom of your foot. Secure the other end of the band to a fixed object behind you while taking care to ensure the band won’t pull your leg backward. Slowly lean forward, bending at the knee until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat three times.

4. Get moving!

Although it may be painful, going for a short walk can help reduce pain and stiffness in your knees by forcing the fluid to move through your knee joint. Aim for a 15-minute walk at least three times a day, or as often as you can manage.

5. Stretch those quads!

Stretching the muscles around your knee can help treat a runner’s knee by reducing pressure on your patella tendon and strengthening the muscles that support your kneecap. Try this simple quad stretch that we learned in primary school. While standing, grasp the ankle of one leg and pull your foot toward your buttock until you feel a gentle stretch in your thigh. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat three times on both sides.

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