Runners Knee – The What, Why and How to Recover

Runners knee or chondromalacia of the patella is a common but preventable condition.


-Pain around and (sometimes) behind the kneecap

-Pain running downhill or down stairs

-Reoccurring pain even after taking a few days off

-Stiffness and soreness after sitting for long periods of time

-Crunching and clicking when you bend and extend your leg

Basically, runners knee happens when your knee is not moving within its designed track and is rubbing on its sides. The grinding on the sides of the knee cap wears down cartilage and over time loses its cushioning effect. Then it gets painful.


-Weak quadriceps. Running really works, builds and strengthens the hamstrings. Unfortunately it doesn’t work your quads nearly as well. If you are only running for exercise, this muscular imbalance starts to create problems for your knee. It’s the thigh muscles that hold the kneecap in place. So an imbalance is enough to throw it off track and pull it to one side or another.

-Watch your feet for proper running technique. If you are rolling your feet in (overpronating) or rolling your feet out (supinating) you are at a greater risk of developing runners knee.

-Overuse. If you have drastically increased your mileage then you should cut back and take it slower. Runners are more prone to runners knee when they hit about 40 miles per week. Instead, work on speed, intervals and lower body strengthening before adding miles to your runs.


-Put ice on your knees after a run for about 10-15 minutes.

-Take an anti-inflammatory like Aspirin or ibuprofen after you run.

-Wear good shoes that stabilize your feet.

-Put heat pads on and around the knee when you go to bed.

-Do squats and leg extensions to strengthen your quads.

When I first started running I started to get a crunchy and sore knee. I started performing lower body strength exercises and I have not had a problem since! Definitely add strength training in to your workout regimen if you are a runner. Just don’t start when it already hurts!

Runners knee is not inevitable and can be prevented. It’s an unpleasant condition and if you happen to get it, despite preventative measures treat it as quickly as possible so you can hit the road again.

Run Safe!

Kaleena Lawless

Personal Training Specialist

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