Running and Knee Pain – We Can Help

With the Dublin City marathon only two weeks away, all of the hard training you have done will be coming to an end. You’re probably heading into your tapering stages and beginning to prepare from a nutritional point of view. With all the miles of training you have done, your body may be starting to feel the effects of fatigue. As a result muscles may be feeling tight and your joints especially around the knees may be feeling weak – or a few niggles may be surfacing (resulting in knee pain). This is not surprising given the repetitive motion of running and that forces of up to 550% of body weight pass through the joint when we run! The good news however, is that it is not too late to seek help and advice from physiotherapy.

1: Pain along the outer leg down into the knee is commonly associated with:

ITB Tightness

This type of pain is associated with tightness of the iliotibial band (ITB) as it tracks over the femoral condyle bone at the knee. As the band tightens the pain increases causing inflammation of the ITB. Getting this released using deep tissue release and rolling through a foam roller can help. A stretching program is also of benefit – something which your PhysioCare Chartered Physiotherapist will customise for you.

2. Pain below the knee cap:

Patella Tendinitis/Tendinopathy

This causes the patella tendon to become inflamed. Pain becomes apparent when running, squatting and walking down stairs. Treatment such as massage to release the muscles at the front of the leg, ultrasound or laser therapy can help to reduce the inflammation – all services available at PhysioCare. Taping or a specific brace can be applied to help distribute force away from the tendon and relieve pain. Weak thigh muscles may also need to be strengthened.

3. Pain at the back of the knee or at the back of the thigh:

Hamstring Tightness or Popliteus Tightness

The hamstring muscle can become tight as it inserts into the back of the knee and may need to be stretched or released using massage techniques. Dry needling and kinesio taping can also help to release this tightness. Another muscle at the back of the knee often overlooked is the popliteus muscle. This muscle helps to straighten the knee and again can become tight if the hamstring is tight and causes pain right behind the knee.

4. Pain at the front of the knee:

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Usually experienced if you walk down or upstairs or running downhill. Pain often presents after running. The knee cap (the patella) is known to mal-track and sits to the outer aspect of the knee. This in turn causes pain and damage to the cartilage under the knee as it rubs on the bone underneath. Treatment includes ensuring the muscles surrounding the knee are functioning normally and provide a specific strengthening program if not. Taping can help to realign the patella and reduce symptoms.

knee painAlthough knee pain is very common in marathon runners, it is not uncommon to experience lower back pain, hip and pelvic pain or foot and ankle pain. If you have managed to stay pain free during the months of training, excellent. You may find however during the race or after the race you begin to get niggles or pick up injuries. It is much easier to treat an acute injury rather than see you two months later. The advantage of treating the injury early, is that the correct advice is given and your time in physiotherapy is usually shorter. Even though injuries can be treated at any stage, just remember it may take longer to resolve an injury that has been present for a while. Good luck in your upcoming marathon and I hope you achieve what you have set out to do – by Chartered Physiotherapist Deirdre Roddy

Our chartered physiotherapists and personal trainers are fully trained in giving you advice on how to approach your marathon and are passionate in helping you achieve your running goals. To schedule an appointment please call us 015310007