Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
What It Is Pain and stiffness around the kneecap
You're at Risk Women who run a 10-minute-per-mile pace or slower
Why Ideally, your kneecap glides smoothly in the groove at the end of your thighbone. But because women have more flexible joints and a more extreme angle from hip to knee (called the Q angle) than men, their kneecaps are more likely to fall out of alignment. Pain intensifies at slower speeds because the knee goes through less range of motion, putting more demand on a smaller area of the joint.
Prevent It Strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and glutes with squats and lunges to stabilize your kneecaps and help keep the pelvis level while you run.
Others at Risk Runners who overpronate, have flat feet or high arches
Iliotibial-Band SyndromeWhat It Is Inflammation in the band of fibers that runs along the outside of the knee to the top of the shin
You're at Risk Women with a BMI of 21 (weighing 135 at 5'7", for example) or higher who do a weekly long run of two hours or more and run hills often. Find your BMI with a BMI Calculator.
Why Extra body weight puts a heavier load on the hips and more pressure on the IT band. Long runs fatigue the muscles that help stabilize women's hips. The hips sag more than normal on each step, straining the band. During a hill workout, the knee stays bent longer, which also increases tension in the IT band.
Prevent It Strengthen the muscles around the IT band with leg walking (loop a resistance band around both ankles and walk sideways in one direction, then the other). Use a foam roller to loosen the band (see runnersworld.com/foamroller).
Others at Risk People who run on slanted surfaces; runners with leg-length discrepancies
Plantar FasciitisWhat It Is Inflammation of the tissue along the bottom of the foot that's usually worst first thing in the morning
You're at Risk Men over 40 who have a family history of the injury
Why The make-up of the tissue in the plantar fascia is stiffer in men and gets less flexible with age. Experts think it could be a genetic condition.
Prevent It The fascia tightens overnight, so stretch your calves before getting out of bed (straighten your legs; flex your toes). Strengthen your calves with toe raises or eccentric heel drops.
Others at Risk People who wear shoes that lack good arch support (flip-flops, ballet flats); pregnant women