Many individuals engaging in high intensity exercise involving jumping, running, cycling and more usually put a high amount of stress on the knee. A large part of that stress usually targets the front of the knee, the patella. You do not necessarily need to be a runner to experience this type of pain.
It can be caused by flat feet, muscle imbalances, muscle tightness or weaknesses, injury, dislocation or misalignment of the kneecap. The pain can also be the result of strained tendons or tender soft tissues around the front of the knee. Most athletes experience this due to overuse and not enough stretching.
If this condition continues to bother an individual without them taking proper care, they can start to breakdown the cartilage which will result in irritation on the joint.
The pain can be present all the time in a dull aching form, but is usually most prominent when using the stairs, squatting, kneeling or having the knee bent for a long period of time.
Some ways to help prevent and avoid runner’s knee include:
1. Working out. Although this may seem like the opposite thing to do, working out keeps you in shape and aids in weight loss if needed. If you are too heavy, you may be putting added stress onto the knee.
2. Stretching. Before your workout you should do a dynamic warmup for 5-10 minutes which may include jumping jacks, walking lunges, or leg swings. This will start to get the joints mobile and blood flowing. Perform static stretching after your workout which may also include using the foam roller to erase any heavy stiffness or tightness.
3. Training. Try not to increase your mileage or exercise all at once. You want to gradually increase your duration or intensity of activity to avoid any sudden changes or overuse.
4. Proper Gear. Find a sneaker or shoe that fits you and your running style. Be sure to have something with a shock absorption or inserts if you are flat footed (consult your doctor if inserts are needed).