Identify 'Runners Knee'

'Runners knee' is an irritation leading to inflammation of the synovial fluid (lubricating fluid) that is contained in tiny sacks located behind the knee caps. It is more technically referred to as ‘patellofemoral pain syndrome’ or PFFS for short. Runner’s knee is often mistaken for iliotibial band syndrome (ITB) as ITB also commonly presents a runner with knee pain. However ITB knee pain if more frequently experienced along the sides of the knees as opposed to directly behind the knee caps.

Due to the very sensitive pain sensors that are located in the knees joints, runners knee can become quite painful once inflammation begins if left unchecked and usually gets worse the farther you go. The pain can even resonate long after your runs are done and where the pain will pulsate for prolonged periods during inactivity.


Runner’s knee is probably the most common running injury for new runners perhaps only second to ITB syndrome . As with most injuries, one cause can be attributed to weak abductor muscles. The opposite problem of ITB sufferers who typically have weak adductors, the abductor muscles which run along the outer sides of the quads are responsible for keeping the legs and pelvis supported and straight ahead during running. A domino effect occurs from this instability that ultimately results in the pinching of the knee joint with each foot landing.

Another major cause that can be pointed at as the culprit causing your runners knee is poor running form where excessive heel striking commonly occurs. Landing on the heels creates a much greater impact to the knee joint than necessary. Not only does heel striking do more damage to all of your joints including your knee, it also slows you down!

Heel striking, when combined with other beginner running mistakes like running in old squash shoes on concrete or running too many miles too soon, can really exacerbate the problem.

Manage Runners Knee

For immediate remedy of runners knee, ice the knees with an ice pack regularly, particularly right after your runs to reduce any inflammation in the joints. Anti-inflammatory drugs are reportedly acceptable for this type of running injury as well, at least for the early and acute stages of pain. Of course, use common sense if drugs are a part of your rehabilitation plan and get some professional advice on the matter if possible to find out what will work best for your situation.

Good running technique promotes quick turn over (a running cadence of 180 steps per minute or higher) and therefore minimal ground contact time. As you move towards better running form, you will experience a much healthier ground contact position and thus less impact to the knees.

Strengthening of the abductors can be achieved by utilizing a variety of exercises including standing or lying leg raises or by using the sitting and standing abductor machines that almost all gyms have. In all cases, you are using each leg to push against resistance to the side and away from your body.

Finally, keep your gear fresh! Often times it will be your knees and lower back that will tell you when your shoes are longer providing you with the cushioning that you are accustomed to so heed your body's signals.

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