For most runners a little pain here or there is normal. But what happens when you have pain that persists and in some cases get worse every time you try to go for a run? For anyone that has experienced this pain in the front of their knee just below the cap, you may have runner’s knee. Runner’s knee is basically patella tendinitis. Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon.
Runner’s knee doesn’t happen because of a one time event. It’s better categorized as an RSI or repeated stress injury. What happens is the patella tendon becomes inflamed because of rubbing that occurs when the femur is not straight during the impact of a stride. There are usually two causes for this, a weak hip or how the foot hits the ground.
In regards to the weak hip, it is specifically the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius is responsible for keeping the femur from internally rotating during running and jumping exercises. There are some strengthening exercises that can be done for the gluteus medius muscles.
Using mini bands placed around the legs above the knees and above the ankles, one can perform lateral steps to both sides, forward and backward walks while crouching down. Other exercises that can be done using the bands include bridges, single leg bridges and clams. All of these exercises help to reinforce the functions of the gluteus medius.
How the foot lands with each stride is also a contributing factor to runner’s knee. If the toes point in upon landing this will place stress on the knee. In this type of incorrect form, force cannot be properly distributed from the ground to the hip as it extends with each stride. Instead it goes to the knee and not the quad, hamstring and gluteal muscle sequence.
Keeping the feet straight with each stride is an important detail for any runner to pay attention to. Add good posture and strong hips to the mix and runner’s knee can be avoided and not derail your progress as a runner.
Written by: Damien Johnson, Owner, Sweat Performance Center
About the Author
Having been in the fitness industry for over 10 years, personal trainer Damien Johnson is considered an expert in his field. As a personal trainer he has worked with clients from all ages and levels, ranging from children to celebrities to professional athletes. Damien has an undying passion for fitness, a thirst for knowledge and is always wanting to be challenged, which he then passes along to everyone he encounters. He has appeared in newspapers and local radio speaking about the importance of health and fitness. As a personal trainer, coach, leader, published author and motivational speaker, Damien is an ambassador to the health and fitness community. His certifications include ISSA-Certified Personal Trainer, ISSA-Specialist in Performance Nutrition, ISSA-Specialist in Sports Conditioning, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, NASM-Performance Enhancement Specialist, NESTA-Master Trainer, and USATF Level 1 Track Coach.