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6 Natural Remedies For Runner's Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

Remedies For Runner's Knee

Runner's knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome is a condition that causes pain under your kneecaps. Resting your knees by avoiding activities such as squatting or kneeling can help you ease the pain. You can also apply ice or drink ginger tea for pain relief. Physical therapy, the use of knee braces, and using supportive shoe inserts (orthosis) may also help.

Runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome is something many athletes are familiar with. But though its nickname would have you believe a sedentary lifestyle can keep you safe, the reality is patellofemoral pain syndrome is one of the most common knee problems people face. The condition prevents your kneecap from running up and down smoothly in its groove and causes pain. Here are a few things that you can do to tackle this problem.1

1. Rest Your Knee

Reducing the load on your patellofemoral joint or the joint formed by your thigh bone and kneecap is the first step to reduce pain. Don’t engage in any activity that causes pain. Resistance training exercises (like lunges and full squats) and high-impact exercises (like step aerobics) should be avoided. Also, avoid kneeling, squatting, taking the stairs, sitting for long periods with your legs bent, and wearing high-heels. If you run frequently, aim for shorter distances and steer clear of hills. Keeping your leg straight or only slightly bent can be helpful as it puts less pressure on the joint.2

2. Apply Ice Packs

Ice packs reduce the inflammation and provide temporary relief from pain. So, apply an ice pack to your knee for about 15–20 minutes every 2–3 hours. But do not apply ice directly on your skin. Wrap the ice pack in a towel so that you don’t get an ice burn.3

3. Have Ginger Or Turmeric For Pain Relief

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are sometimes used to ease the pain in people with runner’s knee if the application of ice doesn’t suffice. But if you’re looking for a natural alternative, you could try having a little ginger or turmeric. Both these herbs are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, research has found them to be comparable in effectiveness to ibuprofen, a commonly used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.4 5 You can have a cup of soothing turmeric or ginger tea or include these common spices in your cooking.

4. Get Physical Therapy

Physical therapy has been found to be effective for treating patellofemoral pain syndrome. A workout plan may focus on strengthening the quadriceps since they’re directly involved in the movement of the kneecap. Your workout may also stretch the hamstrings, buttock quadriceps, and hip muscles as well as the iliotibial band, which goes from your hips to below your knees. Your physical therapist will be able to design a personalized program for you that addresses the problems identified during your physical examination. For instance, some people may benefit from focusing on exercises that strengthen the quadriceps while others may require flexibility exercises for improving quadriceps flexibility. You might find some of the exercises given below to be useful.

Exercise To Tighten Your Quadriceps

  • Sit down on the floor and lean back with your elbows supporting you.
  • Keep the affected leg extended while you bend the other knee.
  • Now, tighten the quads of your extended leg.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds before relaxing.
  • Repeat 10–20 times, thrice a day.

Exercise To Strengthen Your Quadriceps

  • Sit down on the floor and lean back with your elbows supporting you.
  • Keep the affected leg extended while you bend the other knee.
  • Tighten the quads of your extended leg and lift the leg 12 inches off the floor.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds before lowering your leg slowly.
  • Repeat 10–20 times, thrice a day.

Exercise To Strengthen Outer Thigh Muscle

  • Lie down on your side with the unaffected leg touching the floor.
  • Tighten thigh muscles of the affected leg and lift it up till it’s at a 45 degree angle.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds before lowering your leg slowly.
  • Repeat 10–20 times, thrice a day.

Exercise To Strengthen Inner Thigh Muscle

  • Lie down on your side with the affected leg touching the floor.
  • Raise your unaffected leg and place it over the other leg, such that your foot is next to the affected knee.
  • Tighten thigh muscles of the affected leg and lift it up.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds before lowering your leg slowly.
  • Repeat 10–20 times, thrice a day.6

5. Use Shoe Orthosis Like Insoles Or Arch Supports

Proper shoes can not only provide support and cushioning but also make sure that your foot movements are correct. But sometimes, you may need a little extra help. For instance, you could consider orthotic inserts, which provide additional arch support when you roll your feet inward. Research has shown that the use of insoles or arch supports can help certain people with patellofemoral pain syndrome. But do select an insert with a little give, like the ones made with ethylene-vinyl acetate foam. Rigid inserts such as those made from plastic can act against the natural ability of your feet to absorb shock as well as the cushioning and shock absorption athletic shoes provide.

6. Go For Patellar Taping Or Bracing

To keep your kneecap in position, your physical therapist may use tape to bind it or advise a knee brace. A variety of straps, braces, and sleeves are available. The taping and bracing techniques provide support to your kneecap and reduce the load exerted on it. However, studies have found that just using these contraptions without exercising or using other curative methods has low effectiveness.7

To effectively reduce the pain, try a combination of all the above-mentioned steps. If you feel that your pain has become worse, immediately consult your doctor.

References   [ + ]

1. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee) Treatment. The John Hopkins University.
2, 6. Easing aching kneecaps. Harvard Health Publications.
3. Sports injuries. National Health Services.
4. Rayati, Farshid, Fatemeh Hajmanouchehri, and Elnaz Najafi. “Comparison of anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Ginger powder and Ibuprofen in postsurgical pain model: A randomized, double-blind, case-control clinical trial.” Dental research journal 14, no. 1 (2017): 1.
5. Kuptniratsaikul, Vilai, Piyapat Dajpratham, Wirat Taechaarpornkul, Montana Buntragulpoontawee, Pranee Lukkanapichonchut, Chirawan Chootip, Jittima Saengsuwan, Kesthamrong Tantayakom, and Supphalak Laongpech. “Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study.” Clinical interventions in aging 9 (2014): 451.
7. Jessee, April D., Meganne M. Gourley, and Tamara C. Valovich McLeod. “Bracing and taping techniques and patellofemoral pain syndrome.” Journal of athletic training 47, no. 3 (2012): 358-359.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.