I recently read an interesting article on risk factors associated with Anterior Knee Pain, or otherwise known as Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). PFPS describes pain under or around the small bone on the knee (patella). The pain usually increases after sitting for long periods, squatting, kneeling, and stair climbing. We mostly see cyclists and runners with this condition, and the common name for it is “runners’ knee”.
Too much, too quick, too soon….
PFPS usually arises from a sudden increase in training or overuse of the joint (I’ve seen quite a few prospective Comrades runners with PFPS this year due to the increase in their training), however there has been a lot of research into the risk factors in people who develop PFPS with some conflicting results. The study I read tried to make sense of all the research…
The study was a systematic review…basically a study on all the research conducted on this particular topic. To give you some idea, they started with 3845 articles and using specific criteria to eliminate articles that were not well researched, they narrowed this down to only 7 studies. All studies were “prospective”, meaning that they used healthy subjects with no knee pain and assessed different factors. Later on they noticed who developed PFPS and compared their data to the still healthy subjects.
Here’s the relevant summary of their findings:
- Physical Fitness-those people who trained more hours per week were at higher risk
- Flexibility-tight hamstrings and calf muscles were associated with the future development of PFPS
- Strength-Less knee extension (straightening) strength was a significant risk
- Posture-Having a dropped foot arch was significant at increasing risk
- Gender- Females were more likely to develop PFPS
So how does this help you?
Well, if you are thinking of taking up a new sport or just increasing your training for a specific event, have a look at some of the possible problems and try correcting them before it becomes YOU with painful knees…
Build up your training slowly and don’t over-train, stretch your hamstrings and calves, strengthen your quadriceps, wear the correct shoes/orthotics and if you are female…well sorry, I don’t think plastic surgery will help with this!
“Risk Factors for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: A Systematic Review” (J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2012;42(2):81-94. doi:10.2519/jospt.2012.3803)
BY: Riccardo Vaccaro
Knee injuries, Lower Limb injuries