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Runner's Knee Conditions

Joe Fleming provides an overview of the knee conditions which may result from running.

The knee is one of the most complex and overused structures in your body. It also happens to be the largest joint that supports most of your body weight, making it prone to several types of injury. The likelihood of injuring your knee increases especially if you are a runner. According to a study, the incidence rate for sustaining running injuries ranges from 37% to 56% yearly. Whether you are a professional athlete or a recreational runner, it is important to take note of the following knee conditions to minimize your risk. Awareness of these common injuries can put you on your guard.

Common Knee Conditions Which May Result from Running

Runner's Knee

Runner's knee, medically known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is one of the most common overuse injuries which affects the knee joint. Symptoms include pain in front of your kneecap which usually worsens when you have to bend your knee, walk, or stand up after prolonged sitting. There could also be swelling or a grinding sensation in your knee.

Cause: Aside from overuse, it can also result from weak thigh muscles and a direct trauma to the knee.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB)

This is another form of overuse injury that is characterized by some degree of irritation and inflammation of the iliotibial band, a ligament located along the outer thigh. This ligament also crosses both your knee and hip joints. The pain is often accompanied by stinging sensations on the lateral side of the knee.

Cause: Aside from overuse, ITB can also develop due to lack of muscle flexibility and poor running habits.

Patellar Tendinitis

This condition affects the tendon that connects your patella or kneecap to your shin bone. Without proper medical attention, the inflammation and pain gradually worsen until it affects your performance of even the simplest activities.

Cause: This overuse injury happens when there is repetitive stress applied to the patellar tendon. It can also be caused by muscular imbalance and tight leg muscles.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear

This occurs when you overstretch (and eventually tear) your anterior cruciate ligament which is one of the major ligaments in your knee. You may feel a popping sensation when it happens. This is usually accompanied by a severe pain and swelling in the injured knee that can limit your range of motion and make you incapable of bearing weight.

Cause: This injury may happen if you are running on an uneven or rough terrain. The tear can result from a direct blow to the knee as well as sudden changes in speed and direction.

Baker's Cyst

This condition is characterized by a fluid-filled cyst found behind the knee. Some may experience pain, especially when doing any activity that involves flexing or extending the knee such as running, jogging, and climbing the stairs. Other symptoms include swelling, bulging, stiffness, and tightness in the injured area.

Cause: The common causes of Baker's cyst are injuries to the knee and inflammation of the knee joint. It can also be caused by other existing health problems like knee osteoarthritis.

How to Prevent These Conditions

  1. Never increase your mileage by over 10% every week. Take it slow and build up your strength and endurance gradually. Overuse injuries can happen when you go for any physical activity beyond your fitness level.
  1. Wear the right footwear. Aside from buying in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest, it is also best to try new running shoes on for a few minutes. Pick shoes that have adequate padding and support.
  1. Warm-up and stretch before running. These exercises will warm and prepare your muscles and therefore reduce the risk of injuries.
  1. Cool-down after every training and exercise to help your body eliminate the by-products of muscle metabolism, which are partly responsible for delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). These exercises can also help your breathing and heart rate return to normal.
  1. Cross-train to develop other muscles in your body. You can do other cardio routines and strength-training exercises in between running to make sure you are not neglecting those muscles you do not often use when you run. Doing so can also help improve your running form.
  1. Increase your intake of foods that have a high protein and calcium content. These nutrients can help strengthen your muscles and connective tissues and aid in tissue repair. An early morning run can also help your body produce Vitamin D, which is highly essential in the absorption of calcium.
  1. Take a warm bath to ease your sore and tense muscles after a gruelling training session. You can also use a portable TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine to perform nerve stimulation for muscles you have worked. The low-voltage released by the machine can help relieve muscle pain, muscle spasm, and manage inflammation.
  1. Get enough rest. Sleep for at least eight hours a day and observe a 24-hour interval between running to avoid overuse injuries. Take one or two days of every week to relax and allow your body to recover.

Home Remedies for Common Knee Injuries

  1. Rest the injured knee and avoid any activity that aggravates the pain. You may need to refrain from running for a few weeks until you have fully recovered.
  1. Apply an ice pack on your knee for 15 minutes every 4 hours for the first 24 hours. A cold compress can help numb the pain and minimize the swelling.
  1. Wrap your knee with an elastic bandage for extra support and compression.
  1. Elevate your leg with pillows.
  1. Take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen for pain and inflammation. Do not, however, take the medication for more than seven days and make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions.

While these self-care techniques can help relieve painful symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse, you should still seek medical care as soon as possible for ongoing knee pain in case there is a more severe underlying issue. There may be symptoms you have overlooked so to stay on the safe side, consult your doctor.


Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • FLEMING, J. (2018) Runner's Knee Conditions [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article321.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. To inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life's challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health and ageing to social narratives, motivational pieces and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.

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