Runners Knee recovery 101 – everything you wanted to know

Runners knee recovery: an intro

If you’ve found this post it’s because you are suffering from some knee pain when running or walking. Runners knee is a general term for pain around the kneecap or patella. Symptoms in this region vary widely from being a low-grade annoyance to a complete inability to run.

The cause is also somewhat unknown. Some theorize that the pain is due to a misalignment of the knee cap. Misalignment is thought to be due to weak inner thigh muscles and tight outer thigh tissue or IT band.

However we are in the business of looking at runners knee recovery, and have rounded up 7 ideas to try on your runners knee recovery plan as well as our most asked FAQs on the topic of runners knee recovery.

Runners knee can be overcome so don’t despair!

It may take some determination to solve it – and here are some ideas to get you started on that road to recovery.

7 ways to help runners knee recovery and runners knee exercises

  1. butt strenghtening! Yes you heard us right. The pain may be felt in the knee, but it is likely that weak glutes is causing some of the problem and strenghtening the gluteus medius could be key to runners knee recovery. Research is showing that strengthening of the butt muscles to improve the biomechanics of the entire leg is the most likely way to improve your runners knee pain. Test yourself by standing on one leg and squatting half way down 5 times. If you can keep your knee centered over your foot while squatting then you have good gluteal function. If your knees wobble or moves inward you should focus on gluteal strengthening. Squats and glute bridges will really help – so add to your daily routine to help aid recovery.
  2. Stretching. A good stretching regime is is often helpful for runner’s knee recovery. Give extra attention to the hamstrings, calf muscles and quadriceps.
  3. Balance training.  This is an essential component of any knee rehabilitation program. Balance training restores your body’s coordination so that when you run your knee alighment is optimal.
  4. Running form can have a dramatic effect on knee pain, especially if your knees roll in when you run. Improve your running form if this is the case.
  5. Try insoles or orthotics (custom foot supports) which may be able to support the foot in a way that reduces strain on the knee.
  6.  A knee brace that has a cut out for the kneecap and a way to adjust pressure on the kneecap can be helpful.  Adjust the pull on the kneecap until you find a position that cuts down your pain when you run.          You should start by adjusting the brace to pull the kneecap inward, then try inward and upward or inward and downward.  If the brace is going to help, you should notice some improvement immediately. Try not to wear the brace all day. It will probably be more beneficial if it is worn when you are more active.
  7. A physical therapist can perform an evaluation to specifically assess strength, flexibility, balance, etc and design an appropriate program for you. They may also try taping techniques that can provide more specific pressure around the kneecap.

Where is the pain felt for runners knee?

The pain is felt in, behind or around the knee cap. It is often worse when running downhill or doing squats.

I’m overweight – is this why I have runners knee?

Being overweight doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run, but you do need to be careful – because it is a high impact activity. You should however build up gradually in order to take care of your joints. Make sure you are leaving enough time between runs for rest and recovery is important  – as is doing strength exercises to build the strength in muscles.

Who is at risk of runners knee?

It’s a condition which tends to affect beginners, or those upping their mileage or frequency of runs. 

is walking good for runners knee recovery?

Running places much more impact on a joint than walking. As such if you are unable to run due to pain in the knee, it may be that walking is tolerable and will rebuild fitness and muscle strength as the knee recovers.

will running on a bad knee damage my knees?

If you run with an injury, which alters your posture and running gait, you risk damaging your knees further due to stresses being put on your knees in a direction and way they were not designed for.

Should you run with runners knee if it still hurts?

Listen to your body. The more you run the more proficient you will become at interpreting the sensations of your body. Ignoring niggles is likely to them getting worse, so make sure to do strenghtening exercises 

Is runners knee linked to knee damage?

Whether or not you will develop significant osteoarthritis in your knees has more to do with your genetics than anything else. There’s not enough evidence to say that running does damage your knees – and do remember, you are more likely to have knee problems from being inactive than if you’re a runner. However, if you try all of the steps above and runners knee not going away, then consult a physician.