Runners Knee – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Running. For some of you this is an activity that stopped eons ago. A forgotten activity that your body once endured. For others it is part of your daily life, like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. But for those of you like me, your relationship with running is not so black and white.  Your running routine comes in peaks and troughs, dictated by little niggles, aches and sometimes even the seasons. The most common area of complaint in runners that I see here at Stay Tuned is the knee.

The most common cause of knee pain in runners is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), or runner’s knee. This occurs when the patella, otherwise known as the knee cap does not track within the groove at the end of the femur (thigh bone) properly, creating friction between these structures. Those with PFPS may feel discomfort at the front of the knee when going up or down stairs, squatting, or sitting down with the knees bent for an extended period of time. Unlike other injuries there is not always an obvious cause for the development of this condition, instead there may be multiple factors as to why the patella does not track properly in its groove.

For the knee cap to move smoothly in its groove it is important that the structures that influence its motion are doing their job properly.  Muscle strength and endurance issues have been found to be major contributing factors to the development of PFPS. Studies have found that strengthening the muscles that act on your hip, knee and core can significantly reduce pain and improve function in those with PFPS.  Issues below the knee can contribute to the onset of PFPS such as ankle range of motion and foot posture. Lucky for you there are things that both you, and your physio or osteo can do to get you back running regularly.

The first course of action you can do to reduce the burden of your sore knee is to stop the aggravating activity, and for many of you this would be running.  It is crucial also to consult your physio or osteo for diagnosis and management of your painful knee. I t is important to note that that not all knee pain in runners is PFPS and that each case of PFPS is treated differently. After this appointment your treating practitioner will prescribe you an individualized exercise program to strengthen, lengthen and mobilise the tissues that are contributing to your dysfunction, as well as activity modifications to help alleviate stress at the knee joint. The onus is then on you to complete these tasks.  If followed correctly an exercise based program can provide significant reductions and pain and improve function.

Our physiotherapists and osteopaths are trained to treat, help prevent and educate patients about the numerous conditions that affect those participating in physical activity. So whether you have a little niggle, a specific injury, or suspect you may have patellofemoral pain syndrome, contact us on 9531 0909 or book online today to get you back on track.





Van der Heijden  RA, Lankhorst  NE, van Linschoten  R, Bierma‐Zeinstra  SMA, van Middelkoop  M. Exercise for treating patellofemoral pain syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD010387. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010387.pub2.

Halabchi, F., Abolhasani, M., Mirshahi, M., & Alizadeh, Z. (2017). Patellofemoral pain in athletes: clinical perspectives. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine8, 189–203.

Petersen, W., Rembitzki, I., & Liebau, C. (2017). Patellofemoral pain in athletes. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine8, 143–154.


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