Runner's Knee

Runner

Runner’s Knee – It Isn’t Just for Runners

Runner’s knee is not something that is exclusive to runners and does not make reference to one specific injury. Runner’s knee refers to a group of knee problems, it is just referred to as Runner’s Knee as it is often brought on by high stress or impact activities like running.

Men seem to suffer with this injury more often when compared to women and it is also the most common injury among runners compared to other joint injuries they experience. Runner’s Knee may include injuries like Patella Femoral Pain, Chondromalacia Patella and Tendinopathy, among others.

What May Cause This Injury?

There are different factors that may cause this injury, and it may be that it is not caused by one single thing or activity.

The following factors may put you at risk for injury:

  • Muscle imbalance – injured runners demonstrate a greater hip instability and a certain movement pattern during their running, which leads to the injury. The same could happen to non-runners. When you have weak muscles in the hip area and engage in a recreational activity like hiking, there is a chance that your activity, when done for a couple of days in a row, might cause injury to the knee joint.


  • Overuse – Repetitive strain and stress on the knee joint also increases your risk for Runner’s Knee. This may happen when you suddenly start engaging in activities that you haven’t done before, or you suddenly increase the distance that you normally run. This could also occur as a result of forgetting to start newly adopted activities slowly and only increase the amount of exercise you do over a couple of days or weeks.

Other activities that may increase your risk of developing Runner’s Knee are lunges, jumps, squats – even though these are all good exercises, when coupled with muscle imbalance or a previously sedentary lifestyle and an overly eager trainer, it could land you in a chair with an ice pack.


  • Direct trauma – A knee injury could also occur as the result of a fall on the knee or another hard blow to the area. Misalignment – this refers to the thigh bone (femur) and the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) sitting at an increased angle in relation to each other. In some of cases these angles change the way the mechanics of the legs work, putting more stress and strain on certain areas. The knee cap (patella) might not track correctly in the groove of the femur, for example. All of these things may contribute to increased wear and tear which increases the risk of injury should the person participate in high stress activities.


  • Feet – Problems with one’s feet may also play a role. Hypermobile feet, when there is too much movement in the feet and it doesn’t provide support when participating in running activities. Flat feet, when the inside arches of the feet have collapsed and it changes how your feet reacts to, or impacts the ground and leads to bio-mechanical changes in the joints upward. Over-pronation refers to when your feet roll down and inward when you step which may cause excessive rotation in the knee joint when doing weight bearing exercises (exercises you do while you are on your feet).
  • Weak and unbalanced muscles – the quadriceps muscles (front of the thigh) work together with other muscles to maintain joint stability in the knee and are also responsible for keeping your knee cap in place when you bend and extend your leg. Should these muscles be weak, or one of them (there are 4) not function properly, then you find that the kneecap might pull incorrectly causing more wear and tear.


Symptoms one may experience:

Pain is the number one symptom indicating that something is not right. Generally, the pain is in the front of the knee cap, around or behind it. You may experience the pain when getting up from a chair, while running, squatting or kneeling. The symptoms may get worse when you climb stairs or walk downhill.

A visit to a medical professional will reveal a diagnosis and often you will be sent for an X-ray. During the early phases of your injury you will want to rest the knee, put some ice-packs on and avoid the activities that caused the injury in the first place.


Should you want to prevent another injury or make sure that you are able to participate in your running or other recreational activities again, you should visit a biokineticist. It is hardly ever one single thing that leads to an injury and therefore it is important to address all of these factors when and where applicable for a full recovery.

During your visit to the biokineticist the following will be addressed:

  • Contributing factors to your injury – one or all might be applicable – a change in your exercise pattern, your shoes, your biomechanics, your feet, muscle imbalance and weakness, etc.
  • Your running or walking gait will be assessed
  • You might be referred to a podiatrist for your inner soles
  • Muscle imbalance and posture will be assessed
  • Attention will be given to your sporting technique
  • Strengthening programme will be encouraged

For more information contact us at Jacky Hattingh to relieve the pain associated with Runner’s Knee today!

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