Understanding and Treating Runner’s Knee: Symptoms, Causes, and Effective Treatments

Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is a prevalent issue among runners and active individuals. Characterized by pain around the kneecap, it can disrupt both athletic performance and daily activities. This guide delves into the nature of runner’s knee, its symptoms, causes, and the most effective treatments, including physiotherapy exercises designed to alleviate pain and prevent recurrence.

What is Runner’s Knee?

Runner’s knee is a broad term for pain experienced at the front of the knee, around the patella (kneecap). It commonly affects runners, but anyone engaging in activities that put repetitive stress on the knee joint can develop this condition.

Symptoms of Runner’s Knee

The symptoms of runner’s knee can vary but typically include:

  • Pain around or behind the kneecap: Particularly noticeable during activities such as walking, running, squatting, kneeling, or sitting with bent knees for extended periods.
  • Swelling and stiffness: The knee might appear swollen and feel stiff, especially after physical activity.
  • Creaking or grinding sensation: Some individuals experience a grinding sensation when moving the knee.

Causes of Runner’s Knee

Several factors can lead to the development of runner’s knee:

  • Overuse: Repetitive motions and high-impact activities can irritate the knee joint.
  • Muscle imbalances: Weak or imbalanced thigh muscles can affect the alignment of the kneecap.
  • Foot problems: Conditions like flat feet or overpronation can cause misalignment and increased stress on the knee.
  • Improper footwear: Wearing shoes that lack proper support can exacerbate knee issues.
  • Previous injuries: Past knee injuries can increase the risk of developing runner’s knee.

How to Fix Runner’s Knee

Effective treatment of runner’s knee involves a combination of rest, rehabilitation exercises, and sometimes medical interventions. Here’s a detailed approach:

  1. Rest and Activity Modification
    • Rest: Temporarily halt activities that aggravate knee pain.
    • Activity Modification: Substitute high-impact exercises with low-impact alternatives like swimming or cycling.
  2. Physiotherapy
    • Manual Therapy: Techniques such as soft tissue and joint mobilization can relieve pain and improve knee function.
    • Strengthening Exercises: Focus on strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles to enhance knee stability.
    • Stretching: Regular stretching of the muscles around the knee helps maintain flexibility and reduce tension.
  3. Specific Runner’s Knee Exercises
    • Quadriceps Strengthening: Exercises like straight leg raises and wall sits can help fortify the quadriceps.
    • Hamstring Curls: Use resistance bands or weights to perform hamstring curls.
    • Hip Strengthening: Exercises such as side-lying leg lifts and clamshells target the hip muscles, supporting overall knee stability.
    • Calf Raises: Strengthening the calf muscles can support the entire lower leg, including the knee.
  4. Medical Treatments
    • Anti-inflammatory Medications: Over-the-counter NSAIDs can help reduce pain and swelling.
    • Surgical Interventions: In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to correct structural issues in the knee.

Preventing Runner’s Knee

Prevention strategies for runner’s knee focus on reducing stress on the knee joint:

  • Proper Footwear: Invest in high-quality running shoes that offer adequate support and cushioning.
  • Gradual Training: Increase your activity level gradually to avoid overloading the knee joint.
  • Strength and Flexibility Training: Regularly incorporate exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles around the knee.
  • Cross-Training: Engage in a variety of physical activities to prevent overuse injuries.

When to Seek Professional Help

If knee pain persists despite home treatments or if it severely limits your activities, seeking professional help is crucial. A physiotherapist can assess your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs.


Runner’s knee can be a frustrating condition, but with the right care and treatment, you can overcome it and return to your regular activities. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and effective treatments, you can take proactive steps to manage and prevent runner’s knee. If you’re experiencing knee pain, contact Gemini Health Group for a comprehensive assessment and personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Ready to tackle your knee pain? Book an appointment with Gemini Health Group today and let our expert physiotherapists guide you on the path to recovery. Contact us now to schedule your consultation and start your journey towards pain-free living.

Picture of Alex Gurba

Alex Gurba

Meet Alex Gurba, a dedicated and skilled registered physiotherapist and the proud owner of Gemini Health Group. With a deep commitment to providing high-quality and patient-focused care, Alex guides his team towards creating customized treatment plans that yield results. He continuously invests in learning and staying abreast of innovative techniques in physiotherapy to ensure his patients receive the best care possible. As a leader, he fosters a professional atmosphere where the well-being of patients is the top priority. Guided by his passion for helping others, Alex Gurba is transforming lives, one treatment session at a time.

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