More than 25% of runners will experience symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome [PFPS]. The cause of this knee pain can be due to multiple factors; getting medical advice is important to address this situation.
The patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) includes a complex set of symptoms resulting from a problem between the thigh bone ( femur) and the kneecap (mobile bone in front of the knee). This pathology is very common, accounting for 25 to 40% of diagnoses made by doctors during consultations for knee pain. However, the same treatment is not adequate for everyone. It has long been thought that PFPS was related to weakness of the internal muscle of the thigh (large internal quadriceps). However, the most recent clinical studies show that the causes are much more complex and that dynamic assessment (in motion) is needed to customize the treatment plan.
We can first associate the onset of symptoms with a high training volume or the failure to follow an adequate progression of workout intensity (10% of + / week). In addition, running routes with many hills accentuates the problem, because it places additional stress on the patellofemoral joint. In addition to these training-related factors, poor knee joint mechanics is major cause of PFPS knee pain.
3D movements of the knee are influenced by both the muscles surrounding the joint and the mechanics of the foot and hip. Muscle tension or weaknesses in these joints affects the proper alignment of the patella, thereby increasing stress and causing knee pain. The main biomechanical problems identified in PFPS patients during walking or running are: sagging/displacement of the knee inwards during support, inclination/obliquity of the pelvis and significant internal rotation of the thigh. Since it is difficult to self-identify these deficits, it is recommended to consult a specialist for a thorough and global evaluation (muscular, control of the movements, articular mechanics). KneeKG knee technology enables real-time 3D analysis of knee function in a dynamic and responsive manner to target the causes of symptoms.
Using biofeedback such as running next to a mirror or using video are examples of actions to correct the biomechanics of running, thus avoiding the biomechanical risk factors described above. Other studies suggest increasing the pace (aiming for 180 steps/minute) will help to avoid elongated strides as they complicate the task of the gluteal muscles to control the alignment of the lower limb during absorption of the impact and the support. The latest scientific research has demonstrated the importance of muscle strengthening of the glutes and quadriceps (both in terms of strength and endurance) in order to limit the sagging of the knee inwards and the inclination of the pelvis, thus promoting proper alignment of the kneecap during running. Keep in mind that other exercises such as stretching the hamstrings and the ilio-tibial band, strengthening the abdominal belt, patellar taping or plantar orthotics can also be beneficial depending on your case.