Understanding the Causes and Treatments of Runner’s Knee


The aptly named runner’s knee is one of the most common ailments among athletes. Overusing the knees can cause stress to the knee joints, which can result in soreness, pain, and popping of the joints. Fortunately, in most cases, runner’s knee isn’t serious and can be easily treated at home. Additionally, by understanding its causes, you can implement needed changes to your workout routine, and reduce your risk of injury.

Causes of Runner’s Knee

Over time, the continual bending of the knee will irritate the nerves within the kneecap, resulting in pain and soreness. Runner’s knee can also come as a result of any impact related trauma to the kneecap, such as falling or a blow to the knee. Those with flat feet are at greater risk of developing runner’s knee, as the stress put on your feet from running will not distribute as evenly, which results in more stress on the knee joints. Similarly, having weak quadriceps will provide less support to your knees, thereby increasing your chances of developing a knee injury.

Symptoms of Runner’s Knee

If you experience pain in the kneecap, pain when bending the knee, swelling of the knee, or any grinding or popping sensations of the knee, these are all key symptoms of runner’s knee. When caught early, runner’s knee is an easy fix. However, prolonged stress to a damaged knee could result in a more serious injury. For avid runners and athletes, it is important to pay close attention to any changes or subtle pains in your knees, so that you can treat the symptom before it escalates.

Treatment of Runner’s Knee

For minor to moderate cases of runner’s knee, there are numerous ways to treat the symptoms at home. However, if the pain is more severe or persists for several days, seek a specialist immediately to ensure your injury isn’t more severe. The most important factor when healing a sore knee is to allow the knee to rest. This entails avoiding physical activity for at least two to four days until the pain in the knee has subsided. By continually putting stress on a sore knee, you will only damage the joint further.

Ice the knee at least four times per day for twenty minutes each time. Continue to do this for at least two to three days until the pain diminishes. Whenever you are sitting or lying down, elevate the knee by placing a pillow beneath the kneecap. Wear an elastic compression bandage around your knee for the first one to two days after the injury. The compression bandage will improve blood flow and prevent swelling.

Tips to Avoid Runner’s Knee

There are many things that you can integrate into your current workout routine that will decrease your chances of developing runner’s knee. If you have flat feet, finding shoes with arch support can greatly reduce your chances of developing runner’s knee. Running on softer surfaces can reduce the impact and stress on your knees. Be sure to stretch your calves and hamstrings thoroughly before every run. Additionally, work on strengthening your quadriceps, as strong quadriceps will offer more knee support when running.

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