One of the common injuries suffered by distance runners is pain around the knee – otherwise known as Runner’s Knee. There are several injuries that can occur, like ITB (Illio Tibial Band Friction Syndrome), Patellar-Femoral Pain, Chondromalacia Patellae, Patellar Tendonitis, Collateral Ligament pain, just to name a few.
Runner’s Knee or other ailments can be caused by a number of factors: increasing training without adequate conditioning; footwear choices. The latter one can be tricky, especially since so many stores propose to do an ‘assessment’ utilizing treadmills to ‘diagnose’ your running style to establish what type of shoe you should be wearing. In addition, there are numerous flashy brands, proposing different levels of control. So do you have the right shoes? Do you trust the young salesman’s opinion of your foot function? Do they know what to do if you pick up a problem?
Excess pronation has been linked to knee trouble. Not everyone is a natural born athlete with high springy arches – some of us have flat feet, or feet that roll in too much. This can lead to incorrect tracking of the patella and excess rotation of the knee during the running cycle. This will lead to cartilage wear and tissue irritation around the knee and muscle imbalances (i.e. weak quadricep muscles, tight calves, tight hamstrings).
Some women have a high ‘Q’ angle from wide hips, leading to a knock-knee effect, which contributes to mal-tracking of the patellae.
There are a number of treatment options available for Runner’s Knee. Your GP may give you medication for pain. Be advised, however, that pain relief may give you the illusion of being OK, but the problem could become worse if the cause is not dealt with. The physiotherapist or osteopath can treat your symptoms, provide knee support and exercise.
As a podiatrist, I focus on the foot’s involvement in the problem. Examining your bio-mechanics, looking at your foot function and leg alignment, leg length differences, gait analysis, footwear concerns, wear and tear of old footwear, tight muscles identified and diagnoses of the pain itself are part of the treatment.
I will give you exercises designed to alleviate Runner’s Knee – stretching, footwear advice and, depending on your foot type, orthotics to balance the feet within the shoe. This reduces internal rotation of the leg, helping the knee to work in a better alignment, hence improving tracking.