Runner's knee?

When I run more than 4-5 miles, the area to the outside of my knee cap begins to ache. It's a dull ache and I sometimes have to stop to stretch the knees out.

The ache is there the next day and my knees feel sore. But then the ache and discomfort usually go away after two days.

I researched this a bit and it sounds like I might have the so-called runner's knees. Any advice from anyone with a similar condition? Is this preventable or treatable without surgery?

I'm 40 and never had a knee injury.


  • PurpleTina
    PurpleTina Posts: 390 Member
    A foam roller can make a huge difference to runner's knee, from my own experience. Not sure if you're in the UK or elsewhere, but Argos do them for about £10. Runner's World website has some good instructions for using them, but basically runner's knee is caused by the IT band (down the outside of your leg) becoming tight. Massage it with a foam roller, or do soem ITB stretches (also on RW site I think and you should notice that it improves considerably. Hope this helps!
  • schooby2
    schooby2 Posts: 21 Member
    Make sure that you are stretching your IT band, using the foam roll as someone else recommended, "The Stick" massager, or a rolling pin to work on loosening up the outside of your thigh. You may also want to shorten your stride slightly, as it decreases the friction of the IT band at the outside of the knee. Ice when you are done running and stretching. Good luck! :smile:
  • tigerlion2013
    tigerlion2013 Posts: 16 Member
    Thanks for the tips and the recommendations on the book and Runner's World website. I read up a bit on ITBS and it does sound like that's what I have. Granted that's self-diagnosed.

    Maybe I should also see a podiatrist or a sports medicine specialist. I have seen the latter about my ankle in the past. The doctor basically just pressed down on my ankle, told me to get more rest and stop exercising for a while. and took the copay.

    I'm working on improving my cadence. That is the same as shortening the strides, right?
  • Kilter
    Kilter Posts: 188 Member
    For the injury; I agree with the others that have suggested it is an IT issue. There are a lot of stretches that will help with that and using a foam roller, while somewhat difficult to do at first, is totally a great way to help fix this.

    On cadence; no, improving cadence isn't the same as shortening the stride, but shortening the stride often leads to an increase in cadence. Cadence is about leg turnover. The faster you turn over your legs, the higher your cadence is. If you take smaller steps and go the same speed, then you have to take more steps to do so. Hence, many people equate shortening stride with increased cadence. But you can increase your cadence without decreasing your stride... this leads directly to greater speed.

    Think about it this way:

    On a bike in 1st gear you might have to pedal 100 times / minute to get to 20km/h. in 10th gear you probably only have to pedal 60 times / minute to get to 20km/h. If your average on the bike is 5th gear where you pedal 80 times / minute to get to 20km/h, yes you can increase cadence by dropping to 1st gear (shortening your stride in running) where the work is easier, but that doesn't mean you go faster. Now, increase your cadence to 100 and stay in 5th gear and you are going a LOT faster :)

    That make any sense?

  • JoanB5
    JoanB5 Posts: 610 Member
    Researching today myself. I'll post my notes here for others who look for help:

    1. Strengthen Hip Abductors. In one study, runner's were tested. Those who complaints of runner's knee performed worse in the hip abductor exercises. Guesses are it has to do with better shock absorption due to that muscle being more toned.

    2. External Rotator Strength. I'm not sure how to strengthen this yet, but I'll google.

    3. Hip Extensor (same as above)

    4. Strong AND flexible Quad muscles=happy knee cartilage.

    Watch fatigue. Runner's who go to 95% during runs or at the end of a run and are not as conditioned have a breakdown of form, more pelvic tilt forward, poorer absorption of shock. (I've been doing hard running interval training and pressed hard in a race last weekend=knee pain, so this makes sense to me).
    Compression (knee brace or IT band)

    Great Runner's World Iron Strength workout to help runner's strength and cross train for less injury from a Dr. Jordan Metzel in NYC who is a marathoner and tri-athlete. He said tri-athlete's get four times less injuries than runner's because they are better cross and strength trained.

    Great video on "runner's knee" by the same guy (I'm recovering)

    He says that "A happy butt makes a happy runner."

    Other Tips:

    1. Loosen (foam roller)
    2. Strengthen/Cross-Train: 15 plyometric jump squats (don't need to do these until knees are healed) X 4 sets.
    3, Check Foot Mechanics, arch, pronation, orthotics in shoes (harder arch support "unloads the patella")
    4. Angry Cartilage: Ice, Alleve,
    5. Shorten Stride, Quicker Cadence (faster, smaller steps)

    Other exercises (
    -Forward Lunges (can't do with a flare-up, but to prevent)
    -Straight Leg lifts (Quads)
    -Stretch Hamstrings
    -STOP RUNNING 7-10 days
    -Ice, Elevate, until no pain
    -Try Bicycling 20-30 minutes with seat elevated so that it takes pressure off knee bending so much
    -When pain is not evident in walking, try a light 10 minute run, no more
    -Rest a couple days, try a slow 3 mile run, no more
    -STOP if it hurts, do not run through pain
    -Epson salt warm baths, stretching before and after runners, runner's knee brace (Wal*Mart, Target), Compression, Alleve, Cross-Train

    One guy ran his half marathon a few weeks after having a flare up with this advice.
    More advice and exercises:
    Prisoner Squats
    Bulgarian Squats
    Quad and Hip Flexor Roll