The Patello- Femoral Joint
The patello-femoral joint is the space where the surfaces of the knee cap (Patella) and the thigh bone (Femur) interact. This is a common area for developing pain in runners and other athletes. Running, squatting, cycling and stairs will place load in this area, and if these activities are suddenly performed without proper training, or with poor body mechanics, it can overload the area and result in irritation of the surfaces.
This injury is often related to an increase in running volume (distance per week or number of runs per week) or downhill running.
Exercises can help to make you stronger so that there is less load on this area when running. These exercises should be targeted at the muscles on the outside of the hip and the quadriceps.
Gait Re-Education Reduces The Load
Gait reeducation may also help to reduce the load on the area. Increasing your step rate (cadence) so that you take quicker shorter steps will assist with this.
Whilst also aiming to keep the space between your knees wider i.e. avoiding ‘knock knees’.
Retraining where your foot is landing is often important too as it is common for people with this problem to weight bear excessively on the outer side of the foot.
Hands on treatment including muscle and soft tissue release (massage) of tight structures in the thigh and calf, along with stretches – commonly given on a foam roller are often part of therapy.
For this injury running in a more lightweight minimalist shoe may help to reduce excessive heel striking (which can place more load on the knee) but this needs to be added in carefully.
If you’re suffering from Patello-femoral pain contact a Physio at your local practice.
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This blog was written by Adrian Potter Physio from the Gawler Place Physio practice.