By Matthew Hicks from NAB RunWest partner physiotherapists and injury management specialists, Sydney West Sports Medicine:
Are you one of many of runners who get pain at the front of your knee whilst running? Patellofemoral pain (commonly known as kneecap pain) is one of the most common reasons why runners seek out physiotherapy. More often than not, it is due to an increase in running load (eg increasing distance, speed or number of runs per week) that the knee is not strong enough to manage.
A quick test to see how strong your knees are is the single leg squat test. Stand in front of your dining chair and see how many times you can sit down and stand up whilst only using one leg. How many could you do?
A study a few years ago found that patients who could do at least 22 single leg raises and better knee related quality of life than those who couldn’t do 22 reps. Whilst this study was related to ACL reconstructions it highlights the importance of knee strength generally.
There are many exercises to strengthen the quadriceps muscles, one of the main groups of muscles that can affect your knee cap. It is important to remember that you don’t need fancy equipment and strengthening it can be as simple as sitting and standing from a chair.
The goal is to work until fatigue – ideally this will be around 20 reps. If you are able to do 50-100 reps then you may need to make the exercise a little harder by loading only one leg or adding weights to your hands. If you are experiencing knee pain then try to make the exercise easier by doing less reps or sitting to a higher chair. Try to complete 3-4 sets in a session and complete 2-3 sessions per week.
If you are continuing to suffer from knee pain whilst running it is best to consult with a physiotherapist who will be able to tailor your treatment to your needs. Contact Sydney West Sports Medicine on 02 98515959 or at swsm.com.au