Runner’s Knee – Common Causes and Prevention

Runner’s Knee Definition

Runner’s knee is used as a catch-all term for pain and discomfort located in the front or outside of the knee. Common conditions linked to runners knee are:


  • Patello-femoral Syndrome
  • Illiotibial Band Syndrome
  • Chondromalacia
  • Patellar Tendonitis

runners knee

Common Causes

All of the conditions above can be linked to muscular dysfunction distorting the true mechanical position of the knee joint. The potential muscular imbalances, may lead to the misalignment of the patella (kneecap) with the end of the femur (thigh bone). A misalignment of the knee cap may place excessive stress on many of the connective tissues responsible for knee function. A misalignment may also create unnecessary friction between the bones of the knee. These stresses may surface with strength or endurance activities and develop over a period of time.

Prevention of Runner’s Knee

Retraining the muscles involved with the tracking of the knee cap will allow for irritated connective tissues and damaged bone to heal. Muscles are solely responsible for the position and overall function of a joint. There is a sequence of exercises that will begin to establish an equal relationship between the muscles of your knee that will reinforce the ideal joint position. Performing these exercises before activity will help to ensure proper alignment during exercise. Using these exercises after activity will address any uneven muscular fatigue.

Always consult a physician before attempting any exercise program

Active Frog – 40x – Lie on back with soles of feet together with knees out wide. Bring knees together and apart.

Leg Lifts – 20x each leg – Lie on back with left leg straight and the right knee bent so your right foot is on floor. Keeping left leg straight and thigh tight, lift leg up as far as is comfortable then lower back down to floor.

Active Shoulder Bridge : 20x – Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on floor and both knees and feet hip width. Squeeze glutes raising hips and lower back off the floor and back down; repeat up and down.)

Femur Rotations : 3×20 each leg- Lie on back with right knee bent so foot is flat on floor and left leg straight. Keeping left thigh tight and toe pulled back, lift left leg up so it is even with the right knee and rotate left leg in and out from the hip joint.

Shoulder Bridge : 1:00 min – Lie on back with knees bent and feet on the floor, squeeze glutes and lift hips and back off floor and hold.

Air Bench : 1:00 min Stand with back against a wall, knees and ankles at hip width. Keeping back against the wall lower yourself into a sitting position against the wall so that knees are at 90 degrees. Make sure knees don’t go back your ankles. Press lower back into wall.

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