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Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to Cure Runner's Knee

I went through a bout of running last summer/fall that had me limiting my miles as I began my return to the trial of miles. I had slowly started to feel a general pain in my left knee, and it had mystified me as I couldn't locate the area of pain, it was a pain that seemed to radiate from everywhere and nowhere at once.

If this is the type of pain you're experiencing with your knees, and you're a healthy runner with no other knee injuries in the past, you may simply have a case of Runner's Knee, otherwise known as Patello-Femoral-Syndrome. PFS for short.

I spent hours in physio to figure out what the problem was, and since then I've been able to further my understanding of what can cause Runner's Knee. Today I'd like to share what I spent time analyzing, fixing and strengthening as I fought, and won, my battle with Runner's Knee.

Get New Shoes

This was the #1 culprit for me. Have you been running in worn out shoes? If you've logged upwards of 600kms you should look into getting a second pair to put into rotation. Twice now I've been plagued with early PFS pain and swapped out my shoes only to find my pain completely disappear. It could really be that easy for you too, if you don't mind paying for shoes.

Stay Away from Hills

I've found that down hill running causes me the most pain, so I do what anyone would do: stay away from down hills. Up hill running seems to be fine, so go ahead, run up hill...hopefully you don't need to come back down the same hill you just ran up.

Strengthen Weak Muscles

PFS is usually tied to weak muscles, and their overused counterparts. In my case my IT Band was tugging at my knee cap, and that was caused by the fact my IT Band was overused thanks to my overly weak gluteus muscles (medius, minimus and maximus). I wasn't able to figure this out without the help of a physiotherapist, and I recommend you do the same. There are plenty of core exercises you can start doing today if you can't afford a physiotherapist, I recommend my core routine as it's kept me very healthy and strong for months.


If you've got pain, don't run through it.  I found that my pain usually came about after the first half of my run, as my legs and core started to get tired.  I learned that it was better for me to run two shorter runs instead of one longer run, and if your schedule can fit it, I would recommend you do the same as you keep the pain in check. Also, don't be afraid to take rest days.  Harder said than done for some, not for others.


Along with the 'Rest' advice, ice is your best friend. Curb the inflammation as soon as you get home, slap an ice pack on your knees while you stretch out your calves and hammies.

Tape your Knee

I found instant pain relief when I had my knee taped by a physiotherapist. I eventually learned how to do it myself and as I was working away at the root cause of my pain, a tight IT Band and a weak ass, I found that taping was very effective.

Find a Physiotherapist

Find an expert to help you. I may have first hand running and injury experience, but physiotherapists are the experts. If you're in the London and area, I recommend Kate Reid at CBI Health. She's a well decorated runner herself, and she has the clinical experience you'll need.

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