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Proper Runner's Knee Recovery Tips

by Patty Weasler, RN July 30, 2020 0 Comments

Right Knee Brace

Runner’s knee recovery can begin conservatively with simple home treatments, designed to alleviate the characteristic pain in the front of the knee. If that doesn’t provide relief then medical treatment is necessary. Keep reading to learn more about treatment options and recovery time for runner’s knee.

Home Treatments

When you have knee pain starting with home treatments is the first step to recovery and getting back to all the activities you love. Check out how to relieve kneecap pain below.

  • Rest

    Runner’s knee is often caused by overuse or increasing the duration of your workout too fast. You’ll need to take time off of running and other activities that strain your leg until symptoms pass. After you’ve rested a bit, modify your activities to avoid pain to let the healing process continue.

  • Ice

    Ice is a great home treatment that is easy to do and costs almost no money. An ice pack will numb the pain by interrupting the pain pathway in your nerves and will help reduce swelling by constricting the surrounding blood vessels. Use ice for 20-minute intervals making sure not to fall asleep with it on your skin.

    Learn about properly alternating ice & heat for injuries here. 

  • Compression

    Compression is a home treatment that is successfully used for multiple injuries including runner’s knee. The pressure over the site will stabilize the joint, reduce swelling, and increase your body’s awareness of the injury. Use elastic bandages or compression sleeves over your knee joint anytime you exercise, do vigorous activities, or feel pain.

    Taping is another effective way to deliver compression to the knee. Check out this article to learn more.

  • Elevation

    Elevation uses gravity to reduce swelling around the injury. It encourages blood flow to return back to the heart and will help avoid pooling of fluids in your tissues. To elevate your knee, lay down on a couch or bed and place a couple of pillows under your leg. You’ll want to raise your leg higher than the level of your heart.

  • Pain Medication

    Often times when pain is left untreated patients avoid using the affected area and it can cause stiffness. There are multiple pain medications available over-the-counter like ibuprofen and naproxen. These are both anti-inflammatory medications, also known as NSAIDs. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting new medications to avoid any bad drug interactions.

  • Stretches and Exercises

    Stretching and exercise are two major components for preventing running injuries and recovering from them. Stretching and strengthening your quadriceps is crucial because it is one of the main stabilizing muscles for your patella. Exercises to strengthen your core muscles are also recommended if you suffer from runner’s knee.

    Here is a more in-depth review of runner’s knee stretches.

  • Massage

    Massage releases tension in the muscles and provides an overall sense of relaxation. A deeper massage works out muscle knots which can cause pain at the site of the knot and other places in the body. Start with self-massage at home using a foam roller to work out tight areas in your legs. If you need a deeper massage or want professional help make an appointment with a certified massage therapist.

  • Leg Support

    Knee braces will stabilize your knee during intense activity, compensating for muscle imbalances that can cause further harm. If you are unsure if a knee brace is right for you, get medical advice from your doctor or physical therapist. Keep in mind that while supporting your knee is a good thing, wearing a brace for too long can cause the surrounding muscles to weaken and the knee joint to become stiff.

  • Foot Support

    The right foot support can make all the difference when you have knee injuries. If you are a runner make sure to get your shoes fitted at a running store, where they can analyze your gait for overpronation or flat feet. Another great way to support your feet and body is to use shoe inserts, or orthotics. They will correct any malalignment and stabilize your foot and ankle. This will take the stress off of your lower leg and provide arch support.

    Find out how to choose the right insoles here.

Medical Treatment

Sometimes home treatment just isn’t enough when you have runner’s knee. If your pain gets worse over time or goes away and comes back it’s time to talk to your doctor. Here are a few medical treatment options to consider.

  • Physical Therapy

    Physical therapists are professionally trained to evaluate and treat all sorts of joint and muscle conditions. During a physical therapy appointment, your injury will be assessed and your physical therapist will show you ways to improve your range of motion, strengthen your muscles, and modify your movements to prevent reinjury, and much more.

  • Surgery

    Surgery is a last resort treatment for runner’s knee and is rarely needed. If the lateral retinaculum tendon is found to be pulling the patella out of the trochlear groove then a lateral release surgery may be recommended. An orthopedic surgeon will loosen the tissues to help realign the patella.

Prevention Tips

One of the best ways to protect your joint is to prevent runner’s knee. It’s important to listen to your body when you are running and follow these prevention tips to keep you safe.

  • Gradually increase exercise intensity
  • Use proper running form
  • Replace your running shoes regularly
  • Lose weight if necessary to prevent stress on your joints
  • Warm-up before exercise
  • Stretch regularly
  • Minimize activities that cause knee pain

Learn more about protecting your joint and preventing runner’s knee here.

Safe Runner’s Knee Treatment for Lasting Health

Runner’s knee is an overuse injury that can happen to anyone, not just runners. Home treatment is usually enough to manage the symptoms of runner’s knee. If your symptoms persist then medical treatment might be necessary. Always talk to your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to avoid causing further damage to your knee.






Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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