How to Treat and Prevent Running Injuries: Runner's Knee

Undoubtedly one of the most common running ailments, runner's knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), can hamper your training or leave you completely sidelined.

The pain associated with runner's knee is located under, slightly above or below the kneecap. It generally worsens when athletes run uphill, downhill or up and down stairs. A popping sensation is sometimes audible. In the worst cases, the knee may swell.

More: How to Prevent Knee Pain and Injury

A term used to describe a number of knee issues, runner's knee often occurs because of an increase in mileage. While some harriers will experience sporadic pain, others have problems nearly every time they add miles. The condition can also be related to poor running form and core strength.

"A lot of these injuries result from motion or mobility problems in the hip or low back," explains Dr. Aaron LeBauer, a physical therapist based in Greensboro, North Carolina. "Or it can be an instability issue because of lack of core engagement. If you have an imbalance that causes the leg to be unstable, it may be a hip control issue."

Indeed, strength and mobility imbalances will have a greater effect on the body over increased mileage, resulting in issues like runner's knee. The dilemma is you often won't know you have these imbalances until your knee starts to nag you. At this point, it becomes important to back off and identify where the injury originated.

"The biggest problem is that people don't listen to their bodies and they run through pain," says LeBauer. "Running through sharp, shooting pain just makes the issue worse; [runners who do this] end up in my office because they keep running rather than resting or seeking treatment earlier."

More: 7 Tips for Taking Time Off

Runner's Knee Treatment and Prevention

When it comes to treatment, LeBauer says it is important to trace back to the root cause of the pain, and focus on correcting it.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Lobby Havey

Mackenzie Lobby Havey is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and photographer with a Master's in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. She has run 10 marathons and is a USATF certified coach. When she's not writing, she's out swimming, biking, and running the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Check out her website at mackenzielobby.com.

Mackenzie Lobby Havey is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and photographer with a Master's in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. She has run 10 marathons and is a USATF certified coach. When she's not writing, she's out swimming, biking, and running the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Check out her website at mackenzielobby.com.

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