Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a condition that causes pain, swelling and popping or grinding sensations in the knee. Causes of runner’s knee include misalignment of the bones in the leg, overuse, weak quadriceps, fallen arches and trauma to the knee. Here are some tips to help you prevent the painful condition known as runner’s knee.
1. Protect Your Knees from Falls and Blows
Falls and blows can traumatize the knee and cause improper function of the joint. If your knee can’t move the way it should, you may suffer damage to the cartilage or connective tissues in the knee and may require corrective surgery as a result.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess body weight puts undue strain on all of your joints, especially the knees. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the stress your knees undergo as a result of daily physical activities.
3. Wear Good Shoes
If you’re a runner or you regularly perform another physical activity that requires repetitive knee bending, protect yourself from runner’s knee by wearing high quality, comfortable running or athletic shoes. Shoes such as these have extra padding to absorb the impact of your footfalls, and this reduces the stress damage to your knees.
Buy your shoes from a specialty shop so that you can be sure you have the right type of shoes for your foot shape and stride. If you have fallen arches, see a podiatrist and acquire inserts or custom made shoes that correct your fallen arches, since fallen arches are one of the top causes of runner’s knee. Replace your exercise shoes as soon as they begin to become old and worn.
4. Stretch Your Hamstrings before a Workout
Imbalances in muscle development, especially tight hamstrings and weak quadriceps, can contribute to runner’s knee. Stretch your hamstrings before your run or workout to help stave off runner’s knee.
5. Tone Your Quadriceps
Weak thigh muscles, or quadriceps, are one of the top causes of runner’s knee. If your thigh muscles are weak, they can’t support the knee joint the way they should. The bones of your leg, or even your kneecap itself, could become misaligned, causing runner’s knee.
6. Run on Soft Surfaces
Prevent stress injuries to your knees by running on soft surfaces. Avoid running on concrete, since it doesn’t absorb any of the impact of your footstep. Instead, run on dirt, grass or an athletic track. These surfaces absorb some of the impact of your footfalls, so your knees won’t suffer as much stress damage.
7. Take It Easy on Your Knees
If you run or jog long distances regularly, make sure you increase the length of your runs gradually. Never increase the length of your run by more than ten percent at one time, as this can result in overuse injuries to the knee, contributing to runner’s knee pain. Slow down when you run up or downhill. If you change your jogging route for variety, make sure the new route contains the same amount of up and down hill terrain as the old route.