Your butt may be the key to your runner's knee
The knee is like the hinge on a door. It is a complex joint that helps us walk, run, jump, and climb. But often with runners, it can become painful. In fact, knee pain is one of the more common complaints among runners. It's called runner's knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome (Fredericson & Wolf, 2005; Malliaras, Cook & Kent, 2013). Although it's due to a number of different factors, such as form and technique, one of the most important is weak glutes (Powers, 2010).
The glutes are the main muscle group responsible for extending the hip and providing stability. When you have a weakness here, you'll likely have some level of instability and form compensation.
Image a door with a weak hinge. The door may still open and close, but it may take more effort and may not move as smoothly. Over time, this extra effort and lack of smoothness can cause wear and tear on the hinge, which can cause pain or even injury. The same is true for the knee if the glutes are weak. When the glutes are weak, the knee has to make up for it, which puts more stress on the knee and increases the risk of injury.
This is why an obvious starting point for improving runner's knee is glute strengthening (Powers, 2010). Squats, deadlifts, and lunges, as well as specific exercises for the glutes like hip thrusts and bridges, are all great examples of exercises that can help build better buns (Fredericson & Wolf, 2005; Malliaras, Cook & Kent, 2013). A bonus is that a stronger derrière may also help you run faster.
Basically, if you have runner's knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome don't fret. It is common and rehabilitation may just take a little dedication in the weights room (Powers, 2010). Squats, deadlifts, lunges, hip thrusts, and bridges are good starting points (Fredericson & Wolf, 2005; Malliaras, Cook, & Kent, 2013). If you are unsure of how to start these exercises or need some help with technique, always seek the help of an exercise professional.
Alternatively, you're always welcome to get in contact with us at our Narre Warren Clinic (Gravity Osteo) and we can look after you throughout your rehabilitation program, from start to finish.
Stay well, move well
Dr Dray (Osteo)
Fredericson, M., Wolf, C. (2005). Patellofemoral pain syndrome: rehabilitation and return to activity. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 35(11), 722-732.
Malliaras, P., Cook, J., Kent, P. (2013). Patellofemoral pain syndrome. Journal of Physiotherapy, 59(3), 167-175.
Powers, C. M. (2010). The influence of abnormal hip mechanics on knee injury: a biomechanical perspective. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 40(2), 42-51.