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Exercise & Fitness

Taking the pain out of runner’s knee

June 7, 2011
  • By Kay Cahill Allison, Former Editor, Harvard Health

About the Author

photo of Kay Cahill Allison

Kay Cahill Allison, Former Editor, Harvard Health

Kay Cahill was editor of Harvard Health Publishing’ Special Health Reports from 1998 to 2012. Before joining Harvard Health, she created content for a variety of media including newspapers, television, books, radio, and electronic publishing. She … See Full Bio
View all posts by Kay Cahill Allison


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Athena Jo Johnson
January 30, 2012

You’re describing ways in which one can strengthen their muscles so that the skeleton, joins, and important organs in the body can be supported. I found an interesting, and tempting, blog post, proclaiming belly dancing to be a highly recommended physical fitness exercise. This is something that surprised me but after looking into it, we see more and more people of all ages taking up this activity…maybe because it’s more like fun than a hard workout.

January 4, 2012

For people that have never run barefoot and want to, I recommend you start of slowly. Start of with Nike Free’s and work your way into Vibrams. If you go directly into Vibrams or Inov-8 shoes and do not have correct form, you run the risk of injury.

December 26, 2011

I’m intrigued to hear more about the quadriceps concept, too…in part because it’s widely held, and in part because my knees bother me *less* in my 40s than they did when I was younger. I’m more choosy about running shoes, but for the past several years, I belly dance at least 3 or 4 days a week, for at least an hour (or more). Belly dance requires a *lot* of quad strength! — but maybe it’s just coincidental, or perhaps because belly dance also requires flexibility, so I stretch more than I used to. So…hopefully we’ll hear more!

November 1, 2011

This is an interesting post although Kay does not actually mention if she is a runner herself or just woke up one day with this injury. That said running does put an enormous strain on knees and therefore if the knees or legs are slightly out of alignment (age or just poor posture) it will probably speed up this process, resulting in “runners knee”

I teach baby swimming (Aquababies-UK) and after 25 years firmly believe that when children are taught swimming at an early age it teaches them and helps to improve their mobility and the correct movement of their limbs. Additionally as water reduces the effect of gravity it is a safe form of exercise (for both mothers and babies).

I would postulate here that such training might also help reduce “runners knee” in later years (to some extent anyway) as a persons’ movements would have been ingrained at such an early stage of their development and so be intuitive.

Having been one of the first “aquababies” to be taught baby swimming I am happily pretty fit and suffer from no such pain. However if I did I would immediately look at swimming as the best form of exercise to start the healing process.

john sanders
October 30, 2011

Good article, i will use this information.

Sean Gunner
October 10, 2011

Excellent article! A superb way of dealing with a running injury without losing your running fitness is to do interval training on a home exercise bike. Whether you use an upright stationary exercise bike or a recumbent exercise bike, the advantages are the same – low-to-no impact on the joints whilst boosting your heart rate and working on your muscles.

[URL removed by moderator]

September 20, 2011

Hi, great post! Mother’s and their babies can benefit from doing prenatal yoga. [URL deleted by moderator]

September 11, 2011

Nice article.I agree with Bootique, make sure you have the right shoe.

August 27, 2011

Very informative article, the right shoe for the right occasion is certainly a must!

Hope you have recovered!

August 15, 2011

Thanks for posting this blog. I found it very interesting. I have reviewed many running shoes and found that the right shoe makes a huge impact on how a person runs thus minimizing injury.

August 12, 2011

Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So good to search out somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thanks for starting this up. this website is one thing that’s wanted on the internet, somebody with a little originality. useful job for bringing one thing new to the internet! King Regard Stefan

July 21, 2011

Kay, it’s been about 7 weeks since you’ve posted this article. I’m curious how your recovery is going, since I’ve been having the same knee problem lately.

July 18, 2011

If it is a tight ITB as Nathan mentioned then I’d be inclined to look at Callan Pinckney’s Callanetics exercises, and chose only those that have zero knee involvement.

I would try everything before considering surgery, you may even find your solution with Theta Healing.

Best of luck

June 27, 2011

I found daily stretching if the iliotibial band to be extrememly helpful in lessening my pain throughout training leading up to my first half marathon.

For anyone who is interested try vibram five fingers or ino-v8 running shoes to promote correct running technique.

It should also be noted the huge benefits of core strengthening exercises and the affect they can have on running. Turkish get-ups are perfect.

James S.
June 27, 2011

Isn’t it necessary to strengthen the quadriceps to help relieve the amount of stress the knee takes?

I’ve done some of the quad strengthening exercises [URL removed by moderator] and it has helped to say the least.

Even though jumper’s knee and runner’s knee are different I would say that the exercises would still be beneficial for the health of your knees.

Eric P
June 25, 2011

Patellofemoral pain is a common knee problem.The pain can get worse when you’re active or when you sit for a long time. Usually, putting ice on your knee, changing your activities, and following a physical therapy program works best.

June 8, 2011

There are a couple things to quibble with in this article.

Firstly, the advice to strengthen the quadriceps is based off of a conclusion drawn from a faulty study.

Varying the activity can be good to provide some recovery time, however this injury is not caused by the impact of running. It’s caused by the tightness in in the ITB. Cutting back on impact won’t resolve it.

Additionally, this pain can be caused or worsened by cycling as the same muscle groups are also utilized.

Kay Cahill Allison
June 9, 2011

I’d be interested to know the details about the suggestion (in the above comment) that strengthening the quadricepts to help support the knee isn’t valid. It’s a very widely held concept.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

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