Knee painYou don’t have to be a marathon runner to suffer from knee pain, it can happen to anyone. As it most often affects people who participate in sports, especially running, it is often termed “Runner’s Knee”. The medical terminology is “patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)” which refers to any form of dull, achy pain experienced around the kneecap (patella). 

The cause of PFPS is not clear, but it is generally considered a repetitive strain injury. There are often factors including increased training, trauma and often weak quadricep muscles. The diagnosis is generally based on the symptoms and an examination. If pushing the kneecap toward the femur increases the pain, a diagnosis is likely.

The good news is that Runner’s Knee can often be resolved using nonsurgical treatment options. Stretching exercises, in particular, are very effective in not only easing/relieving the pain related to PFPS, but also protecting the knees from any further damage. Here is a list of 3 specific stretches that have been shown to be very effective in easing runner’s knee pain:

Quadriceps Stretch

The quadriceps are a group of muscles located at the front of your thighs. Research suggests that weakness of the quadriceps may lead to knee pain. Strengthening the quads is therefore an important part of any stretching program. Quad set exercise in particular is a great way to strengthen your quads, here is how you can perform these stretches:

The easiest way to perform a quad set exercise is by lying down on the floor/mat and placing a soccer ball underneath your knee. Now you can straighten your knee while making sure that the back of your leg is firmly kept against the ball. Maintain this position for at least 5 seconds and then slowly release. Repeat the same process 10-15 times, twice a day. 

Hamstring Stretch

The hamstrings are a group of muscles that run down the back of your thigh. Tight hamstrings can cause pain in your lower back and knees. Making sure the hamstrings are flexible is really important for overall mobility when running. You can perform a seated hamstring stretch to keep them flexible, here is how you can do this stretch:

Sit down on the floor/mat in a position that your right leg is fully extended and your left leg is bent in a way that your left foot is touching the inside of the right thigh. Now try bending forward and touching your right foot, ankle, or lower leg with your right hand. You will be able to feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Maintain this position for 30 seconds. Now release and return to the normal sitting position. Repeat this on the left leg. 

Hip & Glute Stretch | Stretches For Knee Pain

Tight muscles in the hip or buttock area can lead to over reliance on the quadriceps, and can compromise their flexibility and performance over a period of time. This can also result in Runner’s Knee pain. There are a number of stretches such as squats, toe touch, wall push, and downward dog that you can perform to strengthen your hip and buttock muscles. Here is how you can perform squats:

Stand tall in a position that your feet are at least shoulder width apart. Now bend down by pushing your knees forward. Make sure that your knees are at a slight right angle, your back is straight and your buttocks is rounded. Keep on going down till your hips are lower than your knees. Hold this position for a few seconds; now come up slowly to the original standing position. Repeat the same steps 10 times to start with and increase daily as your strength increases. 

Wearing good quality running shoes, easing in to running and warming up before the run are some other precautions that you can take to minimise the chances of experiencing Runner’s Knee pain.

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Stretches For Knee Pain