runner's knee

Patellofemoral Syndrome, or runner’s knee, is a common injury for most runners, cyclists, and those who participate in sports that involve any type of jumping.  The injury causes achy and dull pain around the kneecap and at the front of the knee.

Symptoms from runner’s knee typically improve after resting and icing the area, but there are also strengthening and stretching exercises that often help.

Below is a list of different exercises one can try to alleviate the pain of runner’s knee.  If the pain doesn’t subside after a couple of weeks, or if you experience sharp knee pains, be sure to visit one of our orthopedic specialists at OrthoExpress urgent care clinic.

8 Exercises for Runner’s Knee Pain

It is important to try out a variety of exercises that focus on strengthening and stretching the knee, hips, quadriceps, hip flexors, and hamstrings.  These exercises will also help to keep the knee stable while running, reduce tightness, and improve leg flexibility.  If you feel knee pain during any of the exercises, stop that exercise and move on to a different one.  

Most people typically see the best results when performing each exercise daily for six weeks.

Standing Quad Stretch

Stand upright.  Reach behind your body with your right hand and grasp your right foot.  Pull your right heel up as far as you can without causing any pain.  Be sure to hold on to something stable for balance if necessary.  Hold this position for 15 seconds, then switch legs.  Perform this stretch 2-3 times on each leg.

Straight Leg Lift

Lie on your back, and bend one knee at a 90 degree angle while extending the other leg straight out on the floor.  Tighten your quadriceps on the extended leg and raise it to a 45 degree angle.  Hold the leg at the 45 degree angle for 2 seconds before slowly lowering it back to the ground.  Repeat this motion 20 times, then switch legs.  Perform this exercise 2-3 times on each leg.

Clam Exercise

Lie on your side on the ground.  Bend your hips and your knees, and stack your feet on top of each other.  Keep your heels touching while slowly raising the top leg to the ceiling, forming a “clam” shape.  Hold the position for 2 seconds, then slowly lower the top leg back down.  Repeat this motion 15 times, then switch to the other side.  Perform this exercise 2 times on each side.

Wall Slide

With your feet shoulder distance apart, and your heels about 6 inches in front of your hip bones, place your back against a wall.  Slide your back and hips slowly down the wall until your knees are bent at a 45 degree angle.  Hold this position for 5 seconds, then slowly slide back up to a standing position.  Repeat this motion 10-15 times, and do 2-3 sets.

Standing Calf Stretch

Stand facing a wall.  Placing your hands at eye level, hold out your arms so that you are pressing into the wall at a comfortable distance.  Place the heel of the leg with the injured knee on the ground behind you, and move the other leg forward while bending the knee.  Turn the straightened leg (the one with the knee pain) slightly inward, then slowly lean towards the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle.  Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, then stand back up.  Repeat 3 times.  

Hamstring Stretch

Lie on your back with your left leg extended straight out on the floor.  Slightly bend your right leg and place your hands around the back of your thigh.  Slowly pull your right thigh towards you while trying to straighten your knee as much as possible, flexing your heel, and pointing your leg towards the ceiling.  Hold this position for 20 seconds then switch legs.  Repeat this stretch 3 times on each leg.

Donkey Kick

Begin this exercise on your hands and knees on a mat, blanket, or towel.  Place your knees under your hips, and straighten your arms with your shoulders directly over your wrists.  Slowly lift your right leg behind you to hip height, extend your leg to the back of the mat, and keep your foot flexed.  With your back in a flat line, press your heel up toward the ceiling.  Hold it for a second, then lower it back to hip height.  Repeat this motion 10 times, then switch to the other leg.

Step Up

Note:  This can be painful if you’re experiencing an injury.  If this irritates your knees, skip this exercise until you recover.  Then it can be helpful in strengthening your legs and glutes and help you to avoid injury again.  

Place your right foot on a step.  Lift your left leg up off the ground as you straighten and tighten your right leg.  Slowly lower your left leg back to the ground.  Repeat this motion 10 times before switching to the other leg.

As mentioned above, if any of these exercises or stretches cause pain, stop immediately and move on to the next.  If you suffer from runner’s knee, or patellofemoral syndrome, be sure to visit our team of orthopedic specialists so that we can help you get back on the trail or track as quickly as possible! OrthoExpress is located at 104 Chelsea Point Drive in Chelsea, AL 35043. Contact us at 205-677-0001.