Runner’s Knee: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments


Some injuries have funny names such as; Tennis Elbow, Golfers Elbow, and Runner’s Knee. What makes them funny is that people who present to our clinic with these pains won’t usually participate in those activities! So even though you may develop ‘Runner’s Knee’ from running, many people who present to Erko Physio with this condition may not actually engage in regular running!

You may have ‘Runner’s knee’ if you have:

  • a sore knee when running
  • Increased pain after squatting movements and walking up and down stairs
  • Pain after sitting for a long time with your knees bent
  • The feeling of grinding or clicking sound in the kneecap when you bend and straighten your knee
  • Kneecap region that is tender to the touch
  • Runner’s Knee Symptoms

Runner’s Knee (clinically known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)  is one of the most common knee complaints seen in our Inner West clinic. Runner’s Knee can be found in both the young active sports person and the elderly, and if not treated properly, can hang around for years.

Runner’s Knee is pain felt behind and around your kneecap, where your patella (kneecap) meets your thigh bone (femur). This joint is known as your patellofemoral joint (kneecap joint). This may be accompanied by clicks, popping or grinding of the kneecap. Pain is commonly located at the front of the knee, however sometimes pain can even be referred to the back of the knee.

Runner’s knee pain may be situational. This means that patients may only experience knee pain when squatting, walking, kneeling, running or standing up. While exercising, you might feel a grinding feeling down in the knee, or knee clicking, even popping. The area might swell, and your overall condition may get worse as you walk down a hill or stairs.

Any of these symptoms may be cause for alarm and a sign that runner’s knee is present.

Common Causes of Knee Pain

There can be several contributing factors to Runner’s Knee. Forces that cause runner’s knee can all be adjusted for the benefit of the patient to reduce pain and treat the condition.

Overuse from exercise or labour can irritate the tissues surrounding your patella. High stress exercises with the knees bent are particularly notorious for their ability to produce symptoms characteristic of Runner’s knee.

Application of Force to the knee, during sport, a workout or a fall can push tissues out of alignment. This causes the pain mentioned above may result. Pain from knee injuries is often more significant than that arising from overuse.

Misalignment of Bones from the hips to the ankles can cause a chain reaction of pressure points. This can make it hard for the patella to move smoothly through its groove. Remedial massage may be recommended.

Problems With Your Feet, for example, hypermobile joints, flat feet or overpronation can again cause a chain reaction of pressure points. This can lead to symptoms of runner’s knee arising.

Unbalanced Thigh Muscles can cause the patella difficulty in staying in place in its groove. If they’re too weak or too tight, a runner’s knee situation may occur.

Chondromalacia Patella is a condition in which the cartilage under your kneecap breaks down.

What To Do For Knee Pain

Rest and recuperation is the most effective way to heal a knee plagued by runner’s knee. Icing your knee is another effective way to help it recover. Wrap your knee with an elastic bandage or sleeve to help realign tissues. Finally, consult with your physiotherapist about stretches and strengthening exercises you can do to help aid your recovery.

Prevention is always better than a cure, and there are indeed ways you can prevent yourself from suffering from runner’s knee. Stretching and warming up before exercise is best practice. Doing so is a sure fire way to keep your muscles from contracting in a way that damages the tissues surrounding the patella.

Avoid running on concrete because the jarring impact of striking your foot to the ground applies too much pressure to the knee. If instructed by your physio, wear a knee brace or shoe insert at all times while exercising to ensure everything stays aligned. Also, always invest in good shoes to exercise in.

Runner’s Knee Rehab at Erko Physio

If you’ve recently been experiencing medial knee pain or ligament injuries in that area, don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation and treatment. It pays to nip the problem in the bud rather than wait for it to become worse alongside prolonged exercise. Our physical therapists will be happy to assess your pain and technique. They will provide stretches and exercises that you can do before and after exercising to help sustain good technique and knee health.

We’re located in Erskineville Sydney and are open Monday to Friday, 7am-8pm. Call today to speak to our friendly team and book an appointment with a professional today.

Our contact number is (02) 9557 9272 and you can also email us with any general inquiries at We offer telehealth consults. If you need an appointment for runner’s knee from home we can help you out.