Dec 11 2019 Reducing the Risk of Patellofemoral Pain in Runners.

Reducing the Risk of Patellofemoral Pain in Runners.


Recently Staff Physiotherapist Thomas Wardhaugh presented to the Recovery Room Staff on Reducing the Risk of Patellofemoral Pain in Runners.


Patellofemoral pain is described as pain emanating under and around the knee cap. It can be very debilitating injury and is the most common injury in runners (17%). In addition, Patellofemoral pain is the most common reason that novice runners discontinue with running with up to a third of symptoms lasting up to twelve months.


What are the risk factors associated with Patellofemoral pain in runners?


  1. General quadriceps weakness
  2. Hip abductor weakness
  3. Increased stride length
  4. Increased leg adduction moment while running
  5. Spike in training loads


So, what can you do to reduce the risks of Patellofemoral pain?


  1. Strengthen the legs.

In two separate studies it has been found that performing a lower limb strengthening programme reduced Patellofemoral pain. In one of the studies they found a 75% decrease in knee pain

  1. Strengthen the hips

Specific strengthening of the hip abductors is associated with a reduction in Patellofemoral pain. Hip strengthening helps with pelvic stability and also reducing the adduction moment of the leg while running.

  1. Gait retraining to incorporate the reduction of ground forces during foot strike such as changing the running from heel to mid-foot strike and thus reducing step length. A 10% change of step length has been shown to decrease forces by 7.5% per mile.
  2. Managing training loads is very important and it is recommended an increase in distances of 10% per week.


Diagram illustrating risk factors and treatment options.


If you have knee pain when running it is important that you have an accurate diagnosis and a specific treatment and rehab plan for successful recovery. We have rehab programs designed specifically for the prevention and rehab of patellofemoral pain. Our physiotherapists have expertise in these areas and will be keen to get you pain free. A big thank you to Thomas for letting us use his material for this blog.