2. Runner’s Knee
Runners knee is common in older runners, but can happen to anyone.
The main causes of runner’s knee are:
- Overuse – repetitive bending of the knee in any exercise, but in this case running
- Trauma – as a result of a fall or sudden twist
- Bad / improper shoes – shoes can be a key player in someone developing knee pain. The wrong shoes can throw your entire body out of alignment and can result in pressure being placed on the wrong parts of the knee. Old or worn out shoes can also cause these misalignments, replace your shoes every 400 miles to avoid this.
- Muscle imbalance – an overdeveloped or under developed quad can result in strain being placed on the opposing muscle or tendons.
Runners knee can be anything from a dull ache around the knee cap, to shooting pain that occurs when going up and down stairs.
A clicking sound or grainy feeling when bending the knee.
Visible inflammation may occur with severe cases. If this happens, stop aggravating activities immediately and apply a cold compress.
As for most injuries, the number one thing you can do to speed recovery is stop the activity that aggravates the condition, REST.
Follow the R.I.C.E. protocol:
I’m not a huge fan of anti-inflammatory medications, but if the pain and swelling are severe, then it might be necessary to seek Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, Aleve, Motrin).
If you’re going to take these meds, follow the instructions, and avoid taking on an empty stomach. Any anti-inflammatory drug protocol should last no more than 7 days.
Roll Out (Myofascial release)
Rolling out is another great way to reduce stress on the region, especially if the injury is a result of quadricep tightness. Roll out your quad, hamstring and outside calf / shin muscle.
Stretch the major muscles in the region to alleviate strain and help the muscles relax.
Doing lower leg strengthening exercises might be the critical factor in recovery, especially if the injury is the result of an imbalance.
Band exercises for strengthening your ankles, and calves may help to correct any foot striking issues, and then balancing exercises, on a soft mat will also strengthen calves up through the knee to the quads.
When can I run again?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Each individual injury is going to be different. However, following the steps above, in most cases you should be able to get back out there on the roads or trails within a week or so.
However, don’t rush it. Wait until you don’t feel any pain in the area before going out for a jog. And be sure to ease back in, don’t jump right back into your training program or normal routine. Alternate jogging with other low impact activities, elliptical (if it doesn’t aggravate it) or swimming.
Prevention is all about continuing the good habits you formed during the injury. Make sure to continue to work on flexibility and strength through rolling out, stretching, and lower leg exercises.
This routine will not only help to prevent a reoccurrence of runners knee, but will also improve your chances of avoiding other lower leg injuries.
An occasional precautionary icing wouldn’t hurt as well.