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Week in, week out, we see a lot of clients with knee pain. Many are runners but knee issues can affect all sorts of people from all backgrounds. People often assume knee problems stem from incorrect footwear or overuse, however, the most common causes are muscular imbalances, poor hip stability, and/or a weak core. 
Here are the three most common types of knee pain to help you understand the signs because, if left unresolved, these problems can become chronic. We've included some tips to help relieve the problem and prevent it from (re)occurring in the future. If you aren't sure what is causing the issue, please book in with one of our therapists and we will assess it for you and give you advice. 

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (aka ITBS) 

This is the most common cause of knee pain in runners. It occurs when the long tendon of the tensor fascia latae muscle (TFL), which runs down the outside of the thigh to the knee (called the iliotibial band), rubs against the outside of the knee joint. It causes friction, pain, and inflammation. 

The causes of ITBS 

Weak hip muscles (particularly the gluteus medius). 
Overpronation or poor foot biomechanics. 
Regularly running on hills or cambered roads. 

The symptoms of ITBS 

Pain on the outside of the knee, which gets worse as you run or if you bend your knee to 45 degrees or more. 
Pain when bending and straightening your leg. 

The treatment (and prevention) of ITBS 

Warm up properly before you start running or exercising. 
Check the camber of the road and try to stick to even surfaces. 
Rest or cross-train to take pressure away from ITB. 
Stretch or use a foam roller regularly. 
Try strengthening exercises for your glutes. 

Patella tendinopathy (aka jumper’s knee) 

Too much running or jumping causes inflammation or degeneration of the tissues. This manifests pain at the bottom of your knee cap. Patellar tendinopathy can be difficult to recover from so rest is extremely important as well as a solid rehabilitation plan to get you back to training/exercise without risk of re-injury. 

The causes of jumper’s knee include: 

Poor foot mechanics. 
Muscle imbalances. 
Incorrect training plans. 

The symptoms of jumper’s knee include: 

Tenderness when pressing into the tendon below the knee cap. 
Inflammation in the knee with it appearing slightly larger or puffier than the other knee. 
Pain or achiness when contracting quads. 
Pain or discomfort when jumping. 

The treatment (and prevention) of jumper’s knee include: 

Reducing the initial pain and inflammation with rest and ice. 
A rehabilitation program that includes strengthening exercises. 
Quad stretching exercises 

Patella Femoral Syndrome (aka runner’s knee) 

This happens when the knee cap isn’t tracking correctly and rubs on the femur bone underneath. This causes irritation or damage to the cartilage, resulting in pain. 

The causes of runner’s knee include: 

Muscle imbalances. 
Too much too soon. 
High impact through the knee. 

The symptoms of runner’s knee include: 

Aching pain in the front of the knee (around and under the patella). 
Tenderness along the inside of the kneecap. 
Swelling after exercise. 
Worsening of symptoms when walking up and down hills or after sitting for long periods. 

The treatment (and prevention) of runner’s knee include: 

Identifying the specific cause 
Strengthening muscles, particularly Vastus Medialis (aka the inside quad). 
Quad stretching exercises 
Use PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) after exercising. 
Complete rest from activities that make it worse until the pain has gone. 
Wearing a patella tracking knee brace or support. 
Taping the knee. 
Maintenance massages will help you stay in top shape and prevent injury. Massage, taping and strengthening exercises can all help. If you are worried about your knees, please contact us
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