Knee pain is one of the biggest injuries faced by runners and needs to be managed quickly and correctly to let you hit the roads or trails again as soon as possible.
One of the most common types of problems that may develop with running is knee pain and by far and away the most common cause of knee pain is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS).
PFPS is a term used to describe the progressive degeneration of the joint cartilage surface of the patella (the knee-cap), accompanied by pain and inflammation of the surrounding tissues.
The patellofemoral joint is the articulation between the patella and the thigh bone (femur) at the front of your knee.
The patella acts to mechanically increase the pull of the thigh muscles to produce knee straightening and resists knee bending when you move.
It also works to concentrate the work of the large, strong thigh muscles into one point.
The tracking of the patella within its groove on the femur (the patellofemoral joint) is very important to allow this joint to function effectively and in a pain-free manner.
Maltracking of the patella causes an increase in contact pressure on the bones and is associated with pain production.
1. Maltracking of the patella can be caused by different reasons, the three most common are:
Weak hip muscles, especially the gluteal muscles (your butt muscles), will allow the femur to rotate inwards and move toward the midline of your body.
This will change the angle of pull on the patella and drag it out of its joint groove on the femur causing stress.
2. A large hip to thigh angle (Q-angle) will also change the angle of pull of the thigh muscles on the patella, often resulting in stress on the articular tissues.
3. Rearfoot pronation that occurs too long or at the wrong stage of the gait cycle will produce internal rotation of the lower leg.
This will have the effect of once again changing the alignment of the patella in it’s joint and increase joint stress.
The first step to managing the pain associated with PFPS is to find out what the cause is. As my first boss used to say; “you can’t fix it unless you know what’s broken” and in the case of PFPS, an assessment of the way you run is really important.
Read more about PFPS and how the Podiatrists at Complete Podiatry can help HERE.