Ouch!!! that nagging dull achy pain under or around your knee cap (patella) every time you go out for a run. You probably have one of the most common and treatable injuries that runners get. It's Runner's Knee!! A common term for an assortment of injuries to the front of the knee (the patella femoral area).
Soreness under or around the knee cap when running, especially when running down hill. Sharp pain under the knee cap when bending down. Soreness of the knee cap area often even when sitting or at rest. Sometimes it feels like there is a pillow of fluid or swelling under the knee cap.
As with many running injuries, overuse is the primary cause. Unless your eighteen years old, have 3% body fat, and are ultra-fit, your bones and muscles need some extended time to rest between running workouts. Running is actually a fairly jarring and damaging exercise for the body. Giving your body a few days between workouts allows muscles and bones to repair and strengthen. Other causes of runner's knee include running with old flat sneakers, structural misalignments in your running posture or feet when running, and even week muscles in your legs that are required to stabilize your knees while running.
If you haven't heard of R.I.C.E., it's a treatment methodology that works for many running injuries and that includes runner's knee. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Rest between workouts and for at least two weeks once symptoms arise and avoid putting weight on your knee as much as possible. Put an ice pack on the sore area of the knee several times a day once symptoms appear and after any workout. Compress bandages can be wound around the knee to provide support. Elevate your knee when not in use.
Slow easy stretches of the knee should be added as symptoms subside. Consider muscle strengthening exercises as well such as deep knee bends or slow lunges.
1. Consider adding some sort of cross training exercise to your running routine. I have found that biking is great for rehabbing and relieving the symptoms of runner's knee. Any non-running exercise that strengthens the stabilizer muscles around the knee is good for prevention.
2. Consider losing weight (if you need to). Less weight equals less jarring during exercise.
3. Ask your doctor about orthotics for your shoes to see if support is needed for your feet.
4. Train up gradually for any running. For example, don't start a marathon training program with a 10 mile run!
5. Wear new and proper running shoes with adequate padding. Don't skimp on running shoes, that's a golden rule. Try different shoes too. I have found some brands cause my knees to hurt more than others. I do have a favorite brand and model but I won't play favorites here!
6. Use the proper running posture when you run. Try to keep your head stable, back straight, and avoid jarring up and down or side to side motion.
Please note the above notes are only suggestions from a life long runner, please consult your doctor for professional advise on any injury that you experience.