Runner's Knee Treatment and PreventionWhen it comes to treatment, LeBauer says it is important to trace back to the root cause of the pain, and focus on correcting it.
"My main method is to find the area of tension and tightness in the hips, quadriceps, low back and abdominal muscles and, once we can get that to move better, we work on stabilizing the hip, knee, foot and lower leg," says LeBauer.
Research shows that stabilizing the kinetic chain through strength work can do wonders in terms of reducing the pain associated with runner's knee. For instance, one study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine directed 19 participants with PFPS through an eight-week hip and core-strengthening program. At the end of the study, participants reported significant improvements in pain and knee function.
Another study out of the University of Kentucky showed that gait retrainment can be used to reduce the symptoms of PFPS. In guiding a group of runners with PFPS through eight gait retraining sessions, researchers worked on everything from internal hip rotation to pelvic drop in hopes of improving hip mechanics and lessening pain. Following the training, participants reported a major decrease in pain, and improvements were seen in running mechanics.
Even if you've never experienced runner's knee, the treatment plans that deal with strengthening and stabilizing the body through gait retraining also serve as preventative measures. To be sure, any time you fortify your core and hips, you're improving your chances of avoiding a long list of potential injuries.
Another important preventative measure: simply listen to your body and back off if something is nagging you.
"If you're feeling sharp or shooting pain, you might need to stop and check posture or form," says LeBauer. "A lot of times this can help."
If you are taking all the preventative measures and still running into issues, it's worth scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist to identify the root cause of the pain before it turns into a full-blown injury.
"Especially if it's something that is happening every time you run, definitely take care of it before it gets worse," advises LeBauer. "It will cost less in terms of money for physical therapy and [you'll take less] time off of running in the long run."