Detecting the causes of runner’s knee
If you are a runner, you will probably be no stranger to injury. It has been estimated that 80% of runners suffer from some sort of injury every year. Running is extremely hard on your joints. Every time your foot hits the tarmac, a shock 10 times your body weight hits your bones and joints hard. The repetitive impact of your feet pounding on the pavement, running downhill, and muscle imbalances can all put extra stress on the joints, particularly the ankles, knees and hips. This shock also travels up your spine and can cause back pain.
Runner’s knee, or Patello-femoral pain syndrome, is characterised by tenderness behind or around the kneecap. The pain is caused by irritation where the knee and thigh join, as the kneecap rubs against the bone. Runner’s knee pain can be a long-lasting, dull ache, or a sharp pain that disperses quickly. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, runner’s knee tends to affect more women than men, due to the fact that women have wider hips, causing the angle of the thighbone to be greater and putting the kneecap under more stress.
In most cases, biomechanics issues are to blame for runner’s knee. Decreasing stride length can prevent overpronation and improving posture can help to align the knees and hips. If you want to find out whether you pronate, supinate or have a neutral foot strike, take a look at the wear of your trainers or shoes. Worn areas will indicate where you are landing on the sole of your foot.
Often, another cause of runner’s knee is poorly conditioned quadriceps and tight hamstrings. To prevent the pain in these cases, you should do extra strength training, which can be achieved through cross training.
The only way to find the cause of your knee pain is to have a gait analysis carried out, which records the way your body moves and identifies any abnormalities. These can then be used to develop a training programme to teach your body how to move in a more efficient way.
Overpronation, oversupination, hip hiking (lifting the hip on one side) and pelvic tilt are common biomechanical problems, which can be caused by differences in bone length but are usually caused by tighter muscles pulling against weaker muscles. From the moment your heel strikes the ground, through to foot propulsion, the foot must remain balanced, so no excess stress is placed on the lower leg muscles.
During a gait analysis, we will watch the way you move, looking particularly at your feet, ankles, knees and hips to identify postural problems and asymmetries. This information can be used to correct posture and strengthen any weaknesses identified, through exercises, orthopaedic supports or insoles.
It is not just runners who can benefit from gait analysis. Posture can cause many common complaints, from backache through to digestive problems. Our centre in Manhattan, New York provides state-of-the-art technology to analyse your gait, and we have the expertise to correct any postural problems.