Runner’s Knee is 1 of the top 5 running related injuries, accounting for up to 25-30% in all. In fact, it’s number 1 on the list. The most common cause that stops runners in their tracks. With 65-80% of runners getting injured each year that’s a big number.

Runner’s Knee is part of our running injuries season where we are focusing on the top 5 running injuries in detail. Giving you weekly info on what it is, why runners get it, the current gold standard treatment, top tips on the best exercises, plus personal encounters of our patients experience.

Runner’s Knee | What is it?

Runner’s Knee, or to give it it’s medical term, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) can account for close to a third of all running related injuries among recreational runners. Also described as ‘anterior knee pain’ or ‘cinema goers knee’ it is pain derived from the lining of the Patellofemoral (kneecap) joint.

If you look at the anatomy of the knee your kneecap actually sits within your quadriceps (thigh) tendon, gliding up and down on the trochlea groove at the end your femur (thigh bone) when you straighten and bend the knee. Usually this happens smoothly as there is a slippery, shiny bit of cartilage between the bones helping to absorb the force. It’s actually the thickest bit of articular cartilage in your entire body as it transmits huge forces on a daily basis. However, when this cartilage gets overloaded and rubs too much it can get irritated causing inflammation to the synovial (inside) lining of the joint as shown in the diagram below.


Runner's Knee | What is it?

Patellofemoral (Kneecap) Joint with synovial lining highlighted

Symptoms typically include a vague ache, or discomfort at the front of the knee, often felt with ‘crepitus’ (a clicking or grinding sensation that can be heard on certain movements). It tends to be worse during the start the of the run, eases as you get going but then can return with increasing distances. Walking downstairs, and hills are often worse, as well as sitting for prolonged periods in cramped spaces, hence the term ‘cinema goers knee’.

Runner’s Knee | Common causes

As we mentioned in our previous RUNNERS HUB blogs there are 3 key elements that make up an efficient, injury free runner:

  1. Technique,
  2. Strength & Control,
  3. A Tailored Training Week.

Commonly if there is a fault in just 1 element this can increase the risk of Runner’s Knee symptoms. Our RUN LAB package is suitable for runners of any level and aims to spot these faults before they even become a problem. A few common technique and control faults are shown below:


Runner's Knee | Why do runners get it?


Runner's Knee | What is it?


Runner's Knee | What is it?


Runner's Knee | What is it?


The most common cause of Runner’s Knee includes over training or simply doing too much, too soon. Look out for our upcoming blogs where we will be giving you some simple, golden tips on how to tailor your training to help prevent Runner’s Knee.

Finally, a very well referenced cause for Runner’s Knee symptoms is poor footwear. Its vital that your trainer fits to you, not you fitting to the trainer! Check out our recent injury prevention & treatment talks and promo events in collaboration with UP & RUNNING, Sheffield.


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