Posts Tagged ‘runners’ knee’

Top 6 Reasons You Experience Knee Pain While Running

runners-kneeAs the name suggests, runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a common ailment among runners. But it can also strike anyone who does activities that require a lot of knee bending, such as walking, crossfit, biking and cycling. But runner’s knee isn’t really a specific injury. It’s a loose term for any one of several conditions that cause pain around the kneecap (patella).

Research has shown that runner’s knee is more common in women than in men, particularly in women of middle age. Overweight individuals are especially prone to the disorder.

Runner’s Knee Causes:

  • The pain of runner’s knee may be activated by a variety of causes. Here are the most common causes of runner’s knee:
  • Thigh and hip/buttock muscle weakness – Weakness in thigh, hip and buttock muscles causes a disproportional load on the kneecap, leading to abnormal wear patterns and inflammatory pain. This improper alignment and tracking can be due to an imbalance of strength between the group of muscles known as the quadriceps and gluteals. This imbalance in strength causes the kneecap to track improperly because it is pulled laterally and out of its track, or causes an increased stress to the cartilage surface underneath the kneecap.
  • Kneecap out of alignment – If any of the bones are slightly out of their correct position — or misaligned — the kneecap can’t smoothly follow its vertical track as the knee bends and extends. This causes wear and tear on the joint. That leads to overuse injuries like runner’s knee and, down the line, osteoarthritis, which can really put a cramp in a runner’s career.
  • Problems with the feet – Runner’s knee can result from conditions of the feet such as fallen arches or overpronation (flat feet). These conditions may excessively stress joints and tissues of the knee. You should always assess your running shoes when experiencing any aches or pains. Make sure they are not too old, and are the correct type of shoes for your feet (more arch support, etc.) Something as simple as an over-the-counter custom insert can help to correct runner’s knee.
  • Direct trauma to the knee – such as a fall or blow.
  • Overuse – Repeated bending or high stress exercises such as lunges, squats, stairs, hills and plyometrics can irritate the kneecap joint. Overstretched tendons as a result of overuse may also cause the pain of runner’s knee.
  • Your training plan – Next, evaluate your training plan. The key points to consider are: Have you been increasing speed or distance recently? Also, are you allowing for adequate recovery time? Increasing mileage too quickly or introducing speed too soon, increases the risk of injury.

Not sure if you have runner’s knee or not? Review these symptoms of runner’s knee. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you may have to stop running temporarily until the knee pain subsides, but continuing to run will not cause long term damage. If your knee pain has not improved within 4-6 weeks, you should consult your sports medicine physician.

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About the Emory Sports Medicine Center

At the Emory Sports Medicine Center, our team of knee specialists are constantly conducting research and developing new techniques for diagnosing and treating the full range of sports-related injuries. Whether you are a professional athlete, or simply enjoy an active lifestyle, Emory provides comprehensive care, in a patient- and –family- centered environment, so together we achieve the best possible outcome and you can return to the sport you love. To schedule an appointment, call 404-778-3350 or complete our online appointment request form.

About Dr. Hammond

hammond-kyleKyle Hammond, MD, spent his childhood in Johns Creek, GA and graduated from Chattahoochee High School before attending the University of Georgia. During his Emory residency, Dr. Hammond received the “Outstanding Resident Award”, and was twice the 1st runner-up in the Kelly Society’s Annual Research Award. Dr. Hammond’s research on the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL Surgery) won the 1st place Award for Research at the Annual Southern Orthopaedic Association and Georgia Orthopaedic Association meetings. He also worked as a Resident Team Physician for Georgia Tech, Emory, and Oglethorpe University Athletics. After his time at Emory, Dr. Hammond was selected to the ‘world-renowned’ Sports Medicine, Shoulder Surgery, and Concussion Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. While in Pittsburgh, Dr. Hammond was the Associate Head Team Orthopaedic Surgeon for both the Duquesne University Football team and the University of Pittsburgh Men’s Basketball team. He also worked as a Team Physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the University of Pittsburgh athletics, Robert Morris College athletics, as well as the Pittsburgh Ballet. Dr. Hammond then moved on to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, New York to work alongside the renowned, Dr. Brian Kelly and learn his techniques in the field of hip arthroscopy.

Dr. Hammond has a special interest in ligament injuries to the knee, the overhead and throwing athlete, shoulder arthroscopy, joint preservation/cartilage surgery, and is one of the few fellowship trained hip arthroscopists in Georgia.

Dr. Hammond enjoys spending time with his wife and their twin boys. When he’s not busy with family and work, Dr. Hammond enjoys working-out, golf, tennis, baseball and football.

Additional Resources
Understanding Runners’ Knee aka Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Protect Your Knees at Any Age

Understanding Runners’ Knee aka Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Knee PainDo you have pain in the front of your knee behind the kneecap? If so, you may have patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS for short), commonly known as “runners’ knee”. Typically runners’ knee is not a product of an injury, but is caused by abnormal leg mechanics including weakness in the quadriceps which result in poor tracking of the kneecap.

You can increase your risk of developing runners’ knee if you have tight hamstrings, or do not warm up enough before an event. Runners often experience patellofemoral pain as they increase their running distance and/or frequency.

Symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome:

  • Pain in the knee, usually in the front of the knee, behind the kneecap
  • Pain in the back of the knee or also above or below the kneecap
  • Pain that gets worse after sitting for long periods of time
  • Pain that gets worse after going up or especially down stairs or hills
  • Pain that gets worse when wearing shoes with high heels
  • Pain with jumping, squatting, and lunging
  • “Crunching” or “popping” in the knee
  • Minimal swelling

The good news is that this condition is treatable with improving your overall leg mechanics. You should think about incorporating strength training into your running training so that you strengthen the quadriceps and gluteus muscles. It is also important to stretch the hamstrings and IT band. If you have flat feet or foot pronation (fallen arches) you should consider inserting orthotics in your shoes to support your arches.

If you are diagnosed with this condition, you may have to stop running temporarily until the knee pain subsides, but continuing to run will not cause long term damage. You should at least consider adding in cross training with activities such as swimming and cycling which will be easier on the knee with PFPS and maintain your fitness. Make sure to ice your knee after exercise and take anti-inflamatories like ibuprofen. You may also want to try a neoprene sleeve for comfort.  Refer to this Patellofemoral Syndrome document for some exercises you can safely do to strengthen the muscles, increase flexibility and stretch the quadriceps.

If your knee pain has not improved within 4-6 weeks, you should consult your sports medicine physician.


Emory Healthcare is a proud sponsor of the AJC Peachtree Road Race.

Peachtree Road RaceEmory Healthcare is the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia and includes Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory University Orthopedics & Spine Hospital, Wesley Woods Center, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Emory Adventist Hospital, The Emory Clinic, Emory Specialty Associates, and the Emory Clinically Integrated Network.

Come visit us at the AJC Peachtree Road Race expo in booth 527 to get your blood pressure checked and learn more about how Emory Healthcare can help you and your family stay healthy!

About Dr. Jeff Webb

Jeffrey Webb, MDJeff Webb, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Dr. Webb started practicing at Emory in 2008 after completing a Fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in pediatrics and sports medicine. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team. He is also a consulting team physician for several Atlanta area high schools, the Atlanta Dekalb International Olympic Training Center, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Perimeter College, and many other club sports.

Dr. Webb sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. He is currently active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books. Dr Webb is an avid runner and has completed 16 Peachtree Road Races.

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