You may have heard of tennis elbow and swimmer’s shoulder, but what about runner’s knee? Also known as running knee, this condition probably needs no introduction if you suffer from it!
The painful issues we mention above are all common overuse injuries, often caused by certain activities. Of course, running knee is prevalent among – you guessed it – runners.
Today, we are going deeper into this uncomfortable condition to learn what it is, how to prevent it, and how to relieve runner’s knee when it does occur.
What is runner’s knee?
Runner’s knee is also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, although it is actually not one specific injury. Instead, it is a broad term that refers to pain in the knee area that is often, but not always, caused by running. We outline some of these causes below.
Generally, runner’s knee tends to manifest as a dull pain, with other symptoms including a grinding or clicking sound in the kneecap.
What causes running knee?
There are many potential causes for runner’s knee and for deeper insight into what exactly is causing your pain, you should speak to a medical professional.
However, here are five common reasons – one or more of these may be affecting you:
As you run, your knee repetitively bends and straightens, often hundreds – if not, thousands – of times. This repetitive action can cause irritation in the nerves of your kneecap, overstretch the tendons, and erode cartilage.
You may be a good runner, but are your muscles strong enough to keep up with you? Runner’s knee can be caused by weak quadriceps, which are the muscles in the thigh tasked with keeping your kneecap in place as you bend your knee. If your quads are weak, your kneecap may fall out of place while running and cause pain.
Similar to the issue above, if your thigh muscles are too tight, then your kneecap may fall out of place and cause pain.
Believe it or not, your knee problems may actually be foot problems! Issues such as fallen arches, hypermobile feet, or overpronation can all alter the way you run, which in turn can cause running knee pain.
If the bones in your legs (from your ankles up to your hip) are misaligned, this can put extra pressure on your knee as you run. Of course, this can cause pain both during and after your run.
What’s the best way to treat runner’s knee?
First and foremost, always seek medical treatment if you are suffering serious pain. However, when you feel a bit sore or achy after a run, you can help ease pain and boost recovery by following some of these tips:
Ice your pain
Start by applying ice to the affected area, as this will help reduce inflammation, ease pain, and prevent swelling. Keep an ice pack in the freezer and ice the area for around 30 minutes every few hours.
Rest your legs
If you are a keen runner or have been training hard for a half-marathon, remember that running knee can be caused by overuse. A smart action is to rest your knee. That’s right – stop running and put your feet up – literally!
This kickstarts the healing process and allows the pain to subside. When you lie down, elevate your leg on a pillow to keep it above the level of your heart, which helps reduce swelling and inflammation.
Use a topical remedy
The beauty of topical remedies is that you can apply them directly to the area of pain and enjoy fast, soothing relief.
We recommend trying our bestselling WholyMe Relief Balm, which combines the healing power of 12 evidence-based, highly-effective ingredients. These include organic essential oils such as arnica, rosemary, wintergreen, frankincense, and juniper, all of which can help soothe pain and soreness in your overworked knees.
Now that you know muscle weakness is a potential cause for the pain you feel, try strengthening your quads. This will involve performing multiple sets of weighted squats and/or lunges, using either a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells for resistance. There are many strength-building programs online, but if in doubt, chat to a personal trainer at your local gym.
Stretch your quads
Ease the tightness that may cause your knee pain with some static stretching after you have finished your run (don’t do these before a run). Simply stand by a wall or chair for support, then grab one foot behind your body. You should feel a nice stretch in your thigh. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat this twice for each leg. If in doubt, speak to a physiotherapist for advice.
Enjoy a soak
Come on – you should never need an excuse for a long hot bath! But sometimes an injury is the perfect reason. A long soak can help you recover, providing that your knee or other joints are not swollen. The heat can help relax muscles and tendons, while promoting the blood flow that accelerates healing.
As you run your bath, add in some of our sensational WholyMe Relief Salts. These uplifting all-natural Epsom salts are enhanced with the anti-inflammatory properties of organic frankincense oil and arnica oil. They smells divine too!
Pairing these treatments can be highly effective, although always seek medical attention if the pain persists or worsens. Before you know it, you’ll be back on your feet and enjoying running once again!