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Runner’s Knee Guide for Patients: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

What is Runner’s Knee and What Causes Pain?

Runner’s knee is also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome. Runner’s knee got its name because the syndrome is common for runners. People experience runner’s knee when their kneecap causes friction against the bottom of their thigh bone. Runner’s knee occurs when the cartilage has been eroded and irritation is present.

runner's knee - knee pain

Trauma to the kneecap, misalignment of the kneecap, flat feet, weak or tight thigh muscles, arthritis, a fractured kneecap, overuse of the knee or complete or partial dislocation of the kneecap can cause runner’s knee. Plica syndrome or synovial plica syndrome can also cause runner’s knee. The syndrome causes the lining of the joint to become thickened and inflamed.

The pain of runner’s knee is caused by worn or torn cartilage, strained tendons or the irritation of the soft tissues or lining of the knee.

What Are the Symptoms of Runner’s Knee?

People who have runner’s knee will have knee pain. Many people will describe it as a dull, aching pain around or behind their kneecap. People may feel pain when they’re walking, kneeling, running, sitting for a long time with their knee bent, squatting, sitting down or standing up and climbing and descending stairs. Some people may experience swelling and popping or grinding in their knees.

How to Relieve Runner’s Knee Pain

Stretching and Foam Rolling

Stretching and foam rolling are great exercises to perform as they strengthen the knee and loosen tight calves and quads. Be careful and cautious while performing stretches as it can further irritate the injured knee.

Medical Tape

Applying medical tape is another great way to get temporary relief from runner’s knee. The medical tape that you apply should be rigid athletic tape or kinesiology tape. Applying medical tape to the injured knee has been proven to be effective. It’s been shown that medical tape provides temporary relief from runner’s knee pain in professional athletes.

Research has shown that medical tape is the best option for temporary relief from runner’s knee. Applying the tape loosely or tightly doesn’t matter because loose taping provides just as much relief as tight taping.Flexible kinesiology tape is recommended, and it’s the best option. Kinesiology tape stays on longer, and it’s less likely to irritate skin.

Knee Braces

Research has shown that knee braces can provide temporary relief for people who are suffering from runner’s knee.

Other Options

Doing hip and quadriceps strengthening exercises each day can also help you to get temporary relief. It’s important to complete exercises slowly, and only complete one set of 15 each day until the strength in these areas increases. When the strength in these areas improves, people who have runner’s knee can complete two or three sets of 15 each day.

It’s important that people who have runner’s knee complete strengthening exercises for their lower legs and improve their balance. Glute bridges are an excellent exercise to do to increase lower leg strength and improve balance.

This article provides information on exercise for runner’s knee pain.

Lastly, it’s advised to put ice on the injury after every session of running or jogging.

Treatment Options

Physiotherapy is one treatment option for people who have runner’s knee. Many people who have runner’s knee respond well to physiotherapy treatment. A physiotherapist will complete a physical assessment to determine how to correct the injury.

 

runner's knee physiotherapy

Massage therapy is another treatment option for people who are suffering from runner’s knee. A qualified massage therapist should have a variety of tools and techniques to help the injury heal. Trigger point therapy, kneading, longitudinal gliding, myofascial release, a compression massage, deep transverse frictions, a Swedish massage and cross-fiber massages help heal runner’s knee.

How Long Does It Take for Runner’s Knee to Heal?

For the injury to heal faster, most treatment plans recommend avoiding running until the injury heals.

Four to six weeks of exercising are necessary for the injury to heal. Usually, it’ll take four to six weeks for the injury to heal, but it may take longer. A doctor or physical therapist should be able to give an accurate estimate on how long it’ll take for the injury to heal.

How to Protect Your Knees While Running

Wearing proper shoes, stretching, cross training, eating healthy and taking supplements are the best way to protect your knees while running. It’s important to avoid overusing the knee as well.

Wearing the right shoes is the most important step people can take to avoid runner’s knee. It’s important that they first find shoes that fit their feet correctly. Many running shoes don’t have proper support to prevent runner’s knee. Always be sure to remove the inserts or insoles that came with the shoes and purchase new ones that offer better support.

Another important step people can take to protect their knees while running is to stretch before they begin running or jogging. Stretching not only prevents runner’s knee, but it also prevents other injuries.

Many people who run for exercise only focus on running. It’s important to cross train. Consistently repeating the same exercise throws the body out of balance. Be sure to add core-strengthening exercises to your routine.

People who run need a variety of supplements and healthy foods to protect their knees while running or jogging. People who run need to maintain healthy joints to prevent injuries. Adults should be getting 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day. People who prefer to eat their calcium have the option of choosing dark green vegetables and dairy products. People who run should be taking 1,500 milligrams per day of glucosamine and 1,200 milligrams a day of chondroitin sulfate.

How We Can Help You

Many people need to participate in a dedicated strength training program to get permanent relief from runner’s knee, and we can help you with that. Many people who experience runner’s knee have come to us for help, and we’ve always been able to help them. Our physiotherapists at Square One Physio in Mississauga can help you get back to the running track again.

Click here to book an appointment.

Related article: Do your knees make a clicking sound when you do squats and lunges?

How to prevent the 7 most common sports injuries

Sports injuries are injuries sustained when playing sports or during exercise. They occur either as accidents or due to poor training practices such as not warming up or using improper gear. These are mostly caused by applying forces greater than a body part can structurally endure at one time or over a longer period. Common sports injuries involve soft tissue structures like ligaments, cartilage, muscles, and tendons.

sports injury in footbal

Types of Sports Injuries

Sports injuries include many kinds of injury suffered in other areas such as falls, car accidents and industrial accidents.

It is useful to classify them by type of injury:

Contusions

These are caused by direct blows onto tissues, particular muscle masses like the thigh. The local tissue and muscle cells are bruised and damaged, swell and become painful

Strains

These are tears in muscles or tendons caused by overexertion or over-stretching

Sprains

Joint injuries are from overstretching the ligaments around the joint, causing tearing, swelling, and pain. Mild ones can be self-managed, severe sprains such as ligament rupture require medical advice

Dislocation

These occur when one part of a joint becomes detached from the other, due to a very severe sprain. Requires medical advice

Fractures

Broken bones, either a minor one where a ligament pulls a piece of bone off or a major one involving main bone such as the thigh. Require medical advice

Head Injury

These occur when the head is hit by something or hits itself against something. Head injuries, even minor ones with few or no symptoms, are always serious and require medical advice

Spinal Cord Injury

This occurs when the spine is damaged significantly and leads to injury to the spinal cord within. These are medical emergencies.

Wounds

These can vary from blisters to large cuts in the body due to impact against a sharp object

Overuse Injuries

These are the most common sports injuries. Inflammation and pain are set up by stressing a tissue too much, too often or both.

Injuries can also be divided into acute and chronic, with differing approaches and treatments.

Acute and Chronic Injuries

Acute injuries are recent and happen suddenly during sporting activity. Signs of an acute injury are severe pain, swelling, limited joint movement, weakness, and inability to bear weight on the limb. Severe cases are obvious fractures and dislocations. They are treated commonly with ice, rest, compression, elevation and gentle movement. Fractures and dislocations require immediate medical care.

Related: Sports Injury and Middle Age: Common Issues that Can Slow You Down, But Don’t Have To

Chronic injuries are longstanding and due to repeated acute events which have not be settled fully in the athlete. They may swell, are painful on activity and often ache at rest but do not have much inflammation. Treatment is frictions, stretches, muscle strengthening, orthotics and altering the mechanics of the athletic action concerned.

The Seven Most Common Sports Injuries

These are:

Can Sports Injuries Be Prevented?

Many sports injuries happen as accidents during play such as collisions, ankle sprains or falls. These are difficult or impossible to prevent. But many could be prevented with some simple precautions. For example, to lower your risk of injury:

  • Make sure you are trained for the sport or activity. Fitness for sport is very specific so if you are fit for football you are not fit for rugby.
  • Perform at least five minutes of warm-up and cool-down before and after exercising or playing a sport
  • Use the right equipment, including any recommended safety gear
  • Don’t push yourself beyond your level of fitness
  • Avoid returning to sport or exercise too soon after an injury
  • Wear good shoes with suitable stability and cushioning
  • Avoid running on hard surfaces or up and down hill
  • If you have an injury or any pain, don’t try to push through it
  • Avoid being a “weekend warrior” by packing all your sporting activity into two days

Overuse Injuries in Sports

These are the most common sports injuries as sports people routinely overdo training and performance. They put up with small injuries until they get more severe and they are forced to stop or reduce their training. Overuse injuries are caused by repeated trauma, examples being stress fractures and tendonitis.

There are two categories of error which can lead to an overuse injury:

Errors of Training

This happens when we exercise too much and too quickly. Doing too much exercise (overtraining), doing too high a level too soon or performing actions too fast can cause an overuse injury.

Errors of Technique

Poor technique can mean you use much more strength than you need to and strain your joints as you perform an activity incorrectly. A repeated poor technique can then lead to an overuse injury.

Anyone can get an overuse injury but it is most likely as we get older, if we are returning to training or if we have increased our training recently. Most overuse injuries could be avoided if the right steps were taken.

How to Avoid Overuse Sports Injuries

A good approach to avoid overuse injuries can be:

  • Adding variety to your exercise regimen to avoid any one set of muscles being continually stressed over a long period of time
  • Pacing your increase in activity to avoid over-stressing your muscles, joints and tendons
  • Learning proper technique and using proper sports gear
  • Taking lessons can be a quick way of getting things right to start with
  • Using appropriate footwear that matches with your sports activity
  • Taking a rest from your activity from time to time to let your tissues settle

If you do have an injury, make sure you identify the exact cause of your problem so you can make changes to your activity and prevent it recurring. Get an expert physiotherapy opinion early to ensure the quickest recovery.

Once you feel the injury has healed you should not return to the potentially aggravating activity until you test your tissues to see if they are ready. You need a full range of motion, muscle strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance or you risk a repeat of your problem.

What to Do if You Are Injured

If you have a serious injury, such as a dislocated or broken bone or a head injury, you should seek medical attention. Go immediately to the nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department, by ambulance if required.

A moderate injury such as a ligament sprain or a muscle tear may still need medical attention. You should be guided by the amount of pain you have and your ability to use the injured part. If the pain is moderate or severe or you can’t use the injured part of your body normally, seek medical help straight away.

If you have a minor injury, you may be able to treat it yourself. An ice pack on the injured area for about 15 minutes can be used for up to eight times a day. A stretchy bandage can apply pressure to the area to help prevent or reduce swelling. You should always take care to see that it is not too tight to interrupt the circulation and don’t wear it at night. It’s essential to rest from the aggravating exercise or sport.

Anything but a minor injury will take several weeks to resolve before you are fit for performance again. Your injury should start to improve within 48 hours after the event. If it does not you should consult your GP, especially if you still have severe pain or the affected area swells badly or feels numb.

The PRICE Protocol for Acute Injuries

PRICE therapy is the best way to treat milder joint sprains and muscle strains in the first 72 hours after injury. Inflammation, swelling, and pain are reduced and your recovery time minimised.

PRICE stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Protection. Stop the activity causing the problem to prevent further damage. Crutches, splints, and supports may be used.

Rest. Be less active for a while to let the injured area settle and heal.

Ice. Use for 10 to 15 minutes up to eight times a day. Always wrap the ice pack in a wet tea towel or similar to prevent an ice burn.

Compression is very important to limit swelling. Crepe bandages are good but should not be tight enough to cause swelling or numbness and don’t wear it at night.

Elevation. Keep the injured area up above your heart to limit the amount of blood flow to the area and reduce swelling.

Sticking to the PRICE protocol can minimize your time to recovery.

How Sports Physiotherapy Can Help

Sports physiotherapy is a specialized branch of physiotherapy that deals with sports injuries and related issues. It is appropriate for men and women of all ages engaged in all kind of sports at any level of competition. Physiotherapists can manage minor and moderate sports injuries and may be involved in the rehabilitation of more serious injuries after medical management has done its job.

Sports Physiotherapy Patient Consultation

Sports physiotherapists have specific training and knowledge to treat acute, chronic and overuse injuries such as:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Bursitis
  • Knee pain
  • Ankle pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Groin pain
  • Hamstring injury
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Workout injuries

Physiotherapists can help symptoms such as pain and weakness and rehabilitate the injured area. They will develop an individual treatment plan including exercises that promote strength and flexibility. They may also use massage and manipulation. The treatment plan will help you recover faster and avoid complications. And it will reduce your risk of sustaining other injuries in the future.

Increase in Sports Injury: Ankle Sprain Due to Increased Physical Activity

Ankle Sprain Due to Increased Physical ActivityOver the course of the past decade, an increasing number of people from all walks of life have become more active and more committed to exercise and fitness as well as to engaging in athletic and recreational activities. Although these individuals are enjoying solid health benefits through these activities, they are not without at least some risks. The reality is that the increase in physical activity has attributed to a rise in the incidents of sports injuries, including ankle sprain.

Diagnosing an Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains account for an alarming 50 percent of all sports related injuries. They are the primary reason why people must take time off from a fitness program or participating in a sport or athletic activity.

There exist some common signs and symptoms of an ankle sprain. One or a combination of these symptoms may exist in any given case. These symptoms of an ankle sprain are bruising, instability at the ankle, swelling and plain. In some cases, a person may experience numbness of severe weakness at or around the ankle. If these two last types of symptoms exist, an ankle sprain may be accompanied by actual nerve damage as well.

If these symptoms exist, it is important that a person seek a professional examination and evaluation. This needs to be done promptly in order to rule out another problem — like a broken ankle. In addition, a proactive effort at obtaining a proper diagnosis also best ensures that proper treatment commences in a timely manner. The symptoms of a sprain are addressed most effectively when treatment begins promptly after an injury.

A healthcare provider, including a physiotherapist, may recommend an x-ray or MRI to confirm what is wrong with an ankle. These examinations work to confirm a sprain as opposed to a break or another type of issue.

Treatment of an Ankle Sprain

Once a diagnosis has been made of an ankle sprain, an appropriate course of treatment can be initiated. In many cases, such a course of treatment involves physiotherapy or chiropodist services . The ultimate goal is to promote a more rapid healing of the sprain and to quickly lessen and even eliminate the pain associated with the injury.

Oftentimes, a mantra called PRICE is followed as part of a physiotherapy regimen associated with the treatment of a sprained ankle. PRICE stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. However, this represents only part of a comprehensive course of treatment.

A chiropodist will recommend other strategies beyond these conservative practices, including certain appropriate exercises, massage and other treatments and therapies. A chiropodist maps out a specific, individualized course of treatment for each and every patient seen that is afflicted with an ankle sprain caused by a sports or recreational injury.

ACL injury – Role of physiotherapy in the rehabilitation process

acl - physiotherapy treatmentAnterior cruciate ligament is one of the 4 ligaments in the knee that aids in the stability of the knee joint. It ensures that we are able to make all the complicated movements like twists and sharp turns while playing football, rugby, tennis, etc. Unfortunately, it also makes it susceptible to injury. In fact, it is the most common types of sports injury that I encounter in my capacity of a professional physiotherapist.

How does ACL injury occur?

ACL injury usually occurs when the knee is twisted suddenly or while landing down from a jump. About 80% of the ACL injury patients that I receive in my clinic are due to “non-contact” injury i.e twisting of the knee. Only about 20% of the cases are “contact” injuries like when a person is tackled badly while playing soccer (football). Often a “pop” sound is heard during this injury which is caused when the ACL is ruptured. The knee buckles under you when you try to get up and walk as the stability of the joint is disturbed. The knee also swells up and pains.

How can physiotherapy help in ACL injuries?

Often ACL injury is easily diagnosed by the doctor after performing a string of knee stability test. The doctor can also prescribe MRI scans which show the extent of the damage and helps to identify whether it is a “full rupture” or “partial rupture”. Usually in “full rupture” of the ligament, the doctor advises surgery in which the ACL ligament is reconstructed. In “Partial rupture” cases, the ACL usually heals with due time. However, in both cases, the doctor prescribes physiotherapy to help build and regain muscle strength which is lost due to the injury.

Usually when a patient with an ACL injury comes to us, we lay out a complete rehab plan in front of him. The plan includes-

  • Reducing pain and inflammation
  • Strengthening leg muscles like hamstrings, Quadriceps, calf muscles to help them support the body weight.
  • Strengthening hip and pelvic muscles to ensure less exertion on the knee.
  • Bring the knee join back to full range of motion
  • Improve proprioception, agility and knee balance
  • Aiding in normal functions like walking and running
  • Getting back to pre-injury fitness and preventing re-occurrence of injury

At Squareone Physio, we have a dedicated team of physiotherapists who specialize in sports injuries especially ACL injuries. If you are suffering from ACL injury or recently been injured, please feel free to book an appointment with us by calling us at 905-232-2202 or by contacting us online here.

Runner’s Knee- the role of Physiotherapy

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is a knee problem seen in runners, hikers, cyclers, and weightlifters and is more commonly known as Runner’s Knee. You may experience a sharp tingling just above the knee joint or swelling up to your lower thigh. The pain will be felt when your foot strikes the ground.

 

runner's knee

The best way to treat Runner’s Knee is to avoid weight bearing, apply ice packs, use an elastic bandage around the knee and keep it elevated. When pain and inflammation are reduced, your physiotherapist can help you to regain a wide range of motion in the area.

If you have been affected by Runner’s Knee your physio will also look at exercises to strengthen your gluteals (muscles around your bottom) and may also refer you to an orthopedic shoe specialist for insoles so that your body is aligned properly when you move.

Are you or someone you know suffering from Runner’s Knee? Book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists and we can help you recover form the pain.

How to prevent foot pain while running

scheduling exercise in daily routineA common complaint among runners is foot discomfort, pain and even damage. There are a number of strategies that a runner can employ to keep his or her feet happy and healthy.

Proper Footwear

Keeping feel happy and healthy requires more than just throwing on any old pair of shoes when heading out for a run. Fitness and healthcare professionals alike recommend that a runner use shoes specifically designed for running. In addition, when selecting a running show, attention must be paid to the experience of a runner and his or her foot and ankle strength.

A person with more running experience and stronger feet and ankles can use more minimalistic running shoes. On the other hand, a person with less experience and less developed foot and ankle strength will need to gravitate towards a product with more structure.

A runner also needs to keep in mind that running footwear does not last forever. The average lifespan of a pair of running shoes is between three to five hundred miles. Once they reach that level of usage, they need to be replaced to optimize foot happiness and heath.

Proper Run Training

Another strategy to employ to enhance a runner’s feet happiness and health is proper running training. This includes gradually building up the distance associated with a running regimen. The reality is that the most common cause of feet and ankle injuries associated with running is too long of an individual run when initially beginning a regimen. Experts suggest no more than a 10 percent increase in distance with each passing week.

Cross Training

Focusing on running related training is not the only training strategy to employ when working to maintain happy and healthy feet. Cross training — fitness activities that compliment running — is also highly important.

The two key elements of complimentary cross training are stretching and core strength enhancement. Stretching should occur before and after every run. Core strength training can be part of an overall fitness regimen that can include weights or cycling, swimming or even Pilates.

General Foot Care

Proper foot care is also fundamental to keeping a runner’s feet healthy and happy. This includes the proper care of nails. They need to be appropriately cut and filed to ensure that they do not snag onto socks or cut into a runner’s skin. If foot related issues occur, a person needs to seek prompt professional care to minimize injury.

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