Knee Pain During Running: One simple trick physio’s use to reduce symptoms

Knee pain during running is one of the most common presentations we see at our physio clinic. This has become even more relevant with the temporary closure of gyms resulting in running becoming one of the favoured forms of exercise.

What causes knee pain during running?

One of the contributors to knee pain can come from the patello-femoral joint or knee cap which is known as patello-femoral pain and can become sore through various ways, such as:

  1. Big increases in running distance over a short period of time
  2. Poor running fitness resulting in poor running mechanics (see our last blog on safely increasing load)
  3. Footwear
  4. Running surface i.e. road running vs grass running
  5. Poor lower limb / core strength which can also influence running mechanics
  6. Poor recovery strategies such as good sleep, nutrition and stretching post exercise.

These aforementioned areas all have the potential to contribute to an onset of patello-femoral pain and should all be addressed if you are experiencing this type of injury.

Here is one quick fix which can have an immediate effect on reducing your pain when running!

This fix is achieved through increasing your cadence whilst running, cadence meaning the amount of steps you take per minute. By increasing your step count, you will take slightly smaller steps which will result in lower amounts of force going through the patello-femoral joint.This will allow your knee to deal with the amount of load going through it more efficiently and reduce knee pain.

How to effectively increase your running cadence

Evidence shows that by increasing cadence by only 10%, there can be a significant reduction in pain in the first month and even greater at 3 months so it is definitely worth trying if you have this kind of injury

STEP 1: Set up a one minute timer

STEP 2: Run for the one minute at the pace you would normally run at

STEP 3: Count how many steps you take during that minute

STEP 4: Calculate 10% of your one minute step count and add it onto the total

Example 180 steps in one minute

180 x 0.10% = 18

180 + 18 = 198 steps per minute

STEP 5: Download a metronome app on your phone and set it to your calculated steps/beats per minute

STEP 6: Practice running, timing your steps to that pace

STEP 7: Incorporate this new running pace into your following runs. Use the metronome whilst running for at least the first two weeks to reinforce the new step speed.

Next steps to improving your running

Now of course, this is not a one size fits all treatment strategy and there are many contributing factors to patello-femoral pain.

If you find that you have consistent knee pain with running and changing your cadence is not enough, visiting a physiotherapist experienced in treating runners is the next step to follow. Here at Penrith Physiotherapy Sports Centre, we have physiotherapists who are very experienced in assessing and treating running based injuries and can definitely help you in managing your knee pain when running. To make a booking head to our Online Booking page or Contact Us today.

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