Runners Knee is one of the most common and potentially problematic injuries that runners have. The pain can progress to the point of limiting training and put off racing. Runners Knee is often seen with increases in pace, distance, or duration of training sessions. Runners Knee is also known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). The cause of PFPS is highly debated but newer research shows a link to poor movement as well as hip musculature weakness. There has been a de-emphasis on Iliotibial band (IT band) tightness and VMO weakness/decreased activation. Meaning that PFPS can be resolved by exercises and mobility work designed to achieve improved movement patterns to take stress away the patella and place it on bigger musculature and joints like the hip. All of the exercises are focused on part-task training to break down problematic movement areas of the run cycle. Mobility work is centered on typical areas of tightness.
Single Leg Bridging– Bend affected side knee with opposite knee strait out with thighs parallel then lift hips towards the sky. Focus on squeezing the glutes. Perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 each side.
Side Steps with Band– Place band around ankles or knees. Bend knees slightly keeping toes slightly in and step side ways, hip width to shoulder width. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 feet each direction.
Single Leg Matrix Reaches– While standing on one leg reach forward and tap the ground and return to start position. Perform this straight ahead and at 45° to the left and right. 2-3 sets of 3-4 touches each 3 directions (straight ahead, inside and outside). Add weight as needed.
Self STM to glutes– Place softball into glutes. Unload to desired force and roll the ball around to break up adhesions. This should be done for 2-3 minutes.
Hamstring stretch– Keeping knee straight, pull heel up towards head. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times.
Quad Stretch– Pull foot towards glutes with hand or strap, till stretch is felt. Can be done in standing or side lying. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times.
With these exercises, keep in mind that it takes 6-8 weeks to build strength, so consistency is key. Once pain has resolved keep consistent with a 1-2 times a week maintenance program to stop the pain before it returns. The entire program taking 10-15 minutes to complete.