With spring hopefully around the corner, you’re getting in shape for running season. Or if you’re a hardy New Englander, you’re out there in any type of weather and are training for the spring races. A common running injury is called patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). It is caused by an abnormality in the way the patella (kneecap) moves over the end of the femur (thigh bone).
Normally, the patella is pulled by the quadriceps up over the femur in a straight line, but with PFPS, the patella is pulled towards the outside of the joint instead. When it’s pulled to the side, the patella grates over the femur, causing inflammation and pain. Runners at higher risk for PFPS include females (due to angulation of the femur relative to the pelvis) as well as knock-kneed and flat-footed runners.
So you suspect you have PFPS; what should you do?
First, stop the aggravating activity. Take some time to rest the joint, use ice to decrease inflammation, and use anti-inflammatory medication if appropriate.
Important stretches include your quadriceps, your piriformis in your hip, and your iliotibial (IT) band along the side of your leg. Important cross-training exercises include bridging for your gluteus maximus, sideways band walks for your gluteus medius, straight leg raises to target your quadriceps, planks for your core and gluteus medius and maximus muscles, and squats with proper positioning for re-education of the muscles to track the patella correctly.
Some corrective exercises that may benefit you are:
Lateral band walks
Additionally, the physical therapists at Joint Ventures can work to improve symptoms with manual therapy such as soft tissue and joint mobilizations, taping techniques, and personalized exercises that are sure to address your individual mechanics.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to visit any of our convenient Boston area locations or call us at 617-536-1161.