Otherwise referred to as kneecap pain, runner`s knee is a complication that affects the structure of the knee. It is one of the most common types of injury, and can easily compromise the quality of one`s life.

The condition is also commonly referred to as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PPS), and it occurs due to complications in the femur and knee cap. Furthermore, the pain often occurs in the front section of the knee, and it affects both males and women. The pain may increase with activities such as running, sitting, or excessive use of the knee.

While the leading cause of runner`s knee is not well known, it often relates to overuse injuries. Risk factors such as high levels of training, trauma, and weak muscles are also common. The condition is also common among people who engage in regular physical activity such as runners. The diagnosis process involves evaluation of the symptoms and experiences of the individual. If the individual experiences increased pain when the kneecap touches the femur, then damage to the kneecap is a likely cause.

A recent publication on the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy prescribes various treatments for knee pain. The common treatment process will involve physical therapy and rest. Furthermore, the runners might also have to alternate through activities such as swimming and cycling. Using insoles may also be beneficial in handling the complication. The signs of runner`s knee may last for several years regardless of the treatment process used.

Symptoms of Runners Knee

The presence of runner’s knee will typically occur gradually, all though some instances might occur quickly. The most common sign of the condition is pain around the knee cap. If the pain is localized and focused behind the knee, then this a telltale sign of the complication. The affected individuals might have difficulty describing the factors that relate to the condition. That said, that pain will usually come about when the knee is strained, or exposed to high levels of pressure. This might include activities such as squatting, kneeling, cycling, running, and more. The pain that occurs due to increased sitting is, in some cases referred to as the “movie sign.” This is because the pain occurs due to sitting in the same position for long durations. The pain might also be associated to occurrences such as clicking noises, that might occur in the body. Even more, the level of experience such pain increases with age and the level of your physical activity regimen.


Similar to most forms of physical health issues, this type of knee complication relates to various factors. A precipitating event will often be the leading cause of the injury. For instance, drastic changes in an activity such as intensive running, and repetitions such as running up and down steps can lead to pain. More so, issues such as poorly worn or damaged footwear can contribute towards the occurrence of foot pain. To control the recurrence of the condition, a physical therapist should prescribe suitable management solutions. The medical cause of runner’s pain might include increased pressure or strain around the knee.

Anterior pain is one of the leading causes of musculoskeletal complications, based on a recent publication on young individuals. It can be a condition that disables one’s ability to engage in day to day activities, and cause discomfort in other body parts.

According to the publication, people with the complication should engage in regular physical activity. The physical activity should involve some form of knee and hip strengthening activities. Furthermore, the guideline also provides various other useful treatments for knee pain. They include:

  • An exercise program that engages the knee, such as soccer, running, biking, and more. These activities help to work the knee area, thereby maintaining the functionality of the knee cap
  • You can also reduce the risk of knee cap pain through strength training techniques aimed at the thigh and leg muscles
  • The pain does not necessarily lead to knee damage, but a physiotherapist will provide useful advice for handling the problem

Exercises for Treating Runner`s Knee

The common forms of physical activity for runner’s knee include:

The Bretzel

The best part about this physical activity is that it helps target the hip flexors, neck, quads, and more. These are components of the body, which can tend to get very tight, particularly in physical enthusiasts. Thus, it’s important that you ease in slowly, and avoid fast jerking movements in the affected area. This way, you keep the joints safe, and can also realize enhanced stretching.

  1. Lie on your side, while keeping your upper torso supported
  2. Raise the top knee forward towards the chest cavity
  3. Use your lower arm to hold the leg behind your thigh, and pin down your knee
  4. Using your upper arm, reach back and grab the lower section of your foot
  5. Rotate your head toward the back foot, and stretch your leg
  6. Take an average of 20 breaths and the change sides

Step with Knee Lift

This exercise helps to work the hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, and more. The main goal of this activity is to enhance the balance and strength of the body. Additionally, the exercise will help improve your balance, especially when running and to regulate any tension in the lower torso.

  1. Find something reliable such as a stable bench or a high stair
  2. Place one foot and breathe out as you stand on the raised surface or the seat
  3. Raise the trailing leg up toward the chest and stop for a few seconds
  4. Then step back down slowly, and don’t just jump because the tension is part of the exercise
  5. Perform 10 -15 reps for the best results

Banded Clamshell

This exercise is best performed by using mini bounds around each leg. Furthermore, you should place each an inch above the knee cap. Using the mini bad helps to add more tension and to enhance the strength of the hips, muscles, and thighs. The steps include:

  1. Lie down on one side, and place your feet in a stacked position at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Support your head using your bottom arm
  3. Then, rest your top hand on the hips, while you ensure that the hips are stable as you perform the exercise
  4. Position the feet together and keep your core tight as you bring the top knee as high as you can, without leaning or shifting the hips
  5. Then, stop for a few seconds and bring the top knee down
  6. Perform this exercise for an average of 10-15 times on each side

Banded Side Lying Leg Raise

Perform this physical activity by using a mini band, that I will place a few inches above the ankle joint. Also, remember that the IT band is a collection of tough tissue. The stretching of this tract of fascia would require large amounts of force. Since it does not respond to the motion in the same way as a muscle does, you have to regard it in the same way as a pulled hamstring muscle. However, stretching the muscles around the IT band helps to release any discomfort complications. The seated heap stretch is one of the best exercises for knee pain.

  1. Lie down on either side and place your entire lower torso in a stacked position
  2. Support your head on your bottom arm and position your top hand on the hips. Also, ensure that your pelvis and hips stay stable at all times
  3. Keeping your legs and feet neutral, lift your torso up as high as possible without shifting the hips
  4. Pause and resume the initial position of this exercise
  5. Perform this exercise for an average of 10-20 reps

Common Treatments

During the treatment and management process, physiotherapists are essential in helping individuals understand the main reasons for pain in the knee. More so, they also play a significant role in helping the individual stay active and recover from the complication.

While most quick fixes for knee pain seem appealing, they are rarely effective. Thus evidence shows that passive treatments such as machines, injections, and surgery are sure-fire techniques for addressing the problem.

Individuals with knee pain should consult a physiotherapist who will provide useful information on suitable exercise techniques. Furthermore, they will also offer helpful education on staying active and sensible forms of physical activity. The occurrence of short-term pain caused by physical activity can relate to factors such as lack of adequate fitness. On the contrary, long-term pain due to physical activity or pressure on the knee might indicate essential issues such as arthritis. Thus, develop a physical activity regimen that relates to your pain and specific physical characteristics

Bracing and Taping

These are both useful techniques when it comes to managing runner`s knee. Additionally, these techniques are much more effective when used with therapeutic physical activity techniques. The knee braces are useful for treating runner`s knee. Using the taping technique might involve unique positioning methods to help relieve pain.


Low arches can lead to over-pronation, or even cause the feet to roll inward, thus increasing the stress on the knee joints. Poor biomechanics can also lead to increased stress on the knees. They can also relate to complications such as patellofemoral pain syndrome. Using foot orthoses, such as Soul Insoles or Tread Labs, plays a significant role in enhancing the biomechanics of the lower foot, and can be beneficial for treatment. More so, the foot orthoses can also help regulate chronic knee pain.

Proper Rest

Getting sufficient rest is also important when you want address the problem of runner`s knee. Use the Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) technique whenever the pain arises. In some cases, this type of knee complication is only temporary, and proper rest can be sufficient. Also, avoid any form of heavy lifting during the rehabilitation process.

Still Not Sure if You Should Stop Working Out? Visit A Doctor

A physical therapist will evaluate your movement, assess your gait, and the characteristics of your body. For instance, they evaluate the specific factors that caused the injury on one knee and not the other. More so, they also assess the presence of chronic complications in the body, such as the joints. In some cases, it might be an ankle sprain that occurred a few backs. Regardless of the cause, you must get help from a certified medical professional.

The knee pain might not be constant, but it might disappear after a few weeks of proper treatment. That said if it’s bad enough that it compromises your quality of life, consult with a physical therapist. Fortunately, most running-related complications often occur due to traumatic issues or events.

For most physical enthusiasts, knee pain is just a factor associated with regular physical activity. Wearing an immobilizing knee brace might also be part of the rehabilitation process. Remember that the pain is a signal from the body of something wrong with the foot. Ultimately, taking good care of your body, mainly when working out and your diet is essential. Furthermore, if diagnosed with the complication, ensure that you treat the pain before it advances to a complex problem.


Whether runners knee occurs due to physical activity or even a poor lifestyle, it’s essential to address the problem by using the proper approach. The condition affects both men and women and might increase during activities that place weight on the knee. Usually, the leading causes of the complication relate to various factors such as poor lifestyles, genetics and overload on the knee joint.

Short-term pain might not necessarily lead to runner`s knee. Thus, coming up with a proper exercise regimen is vital in eliminating runners knee. Even more, your diet and ability to keep your physical health in optimal levels is crucial in addressing such a complication. That said, if the complication surpasses the three-month mark, then medical attention is your best option. Being able to solve the problem at the early stages is vital and might save lots in inconveniencing trips to the doctors.

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Brian Bradshaw. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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