How Much Is A Runner’s Knee Recovery Time?

June 15, 2024
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You just started a new running program with high enthusiasm. You start running further, faster, and more often. Then, you suddenly get pain in the front of your knee around the kneecap that won’t go away. A runner’s knee recovery time is usually 6-12 weeks.

Runner’s Knee is also called patellofemoral syndrome or patellofemoral pain syndrome. While running often causes it, activities like skiing, soccer, basketball, and hiking can also lead to it.

Runner’s Knee Symptoms

Patellofemoral syndrome is often described as a dull ache inside your kneecap. You might also feel rubbing, grinding, or clicking under the kneecap. When the problem is severe, the kneecap can be tender to touch.

Besides sports and exercise, runner’s knee can cause symptoms during activities that involve bending or straightening your knee while bearing weight, like:

  • Standing up from or sitting in a chair
  • Going up or down stairs
  • Squatting
  • Walking
  • Kneeling

Runner’s Knee Recovery Plan

A runner’s knee usually requires non-surgical methods to recover. Your recovery plan can include:

  • Rest, Ice, and Elevate
    In the early stages of patellofemoral syndrome, you will likely have increased pain and swelling. First, identify and stop the activity that caused the issue. The “no pain, no gain” mindset does not apply here, as it will make things worse. If there’s swelling, ice your knee and elevate your leg while lying down.
  • Stretches for Runner’s Knee
    Patellofemoral pain syndrome often comes from tight tissues affecting knee mechanics and causing pain and swelling. Following are some helpful stretches:

    1. Iliotibial Band Foam Roll: Lie on your side with the foam roll under the bottom leg. Start near the knee and use your arms and legs to move your body down. Roll up and down until tension eases.
    2. Quadriceps Stretch: Stand with one hand on a wall for balance. Lift your ankle towards your buttock and hold until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.
    3. Hamstring Stretch: Sit with one foot forward and one foot back. Straighten your back and bend your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of the forward leg.
    4. Calf Stretch: Stand in a lunge position with both hands on the wall. Keep the back heel on the floor and lunge forward until you feel a stretch in the calf.
  • Strength Exercises for Patellofemoral Syndrome
    Running involves complex movements requiring strong muscles. Weak muscles can change your running mechanics, especially when tired. These exercises can help:

    1. Clamshell: Lie on your side with bent knees. Lift the top knee while keeping the ankles together until you feel the tension in the buttocks.
    2. Squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and hips back as you lower towards the floor, feeling tension in the front of your thighs.
    3. Arch Lifts: Stand with feet on the floor. Lift your arch by bringing the pad of your first toe towards your heel, feeling tension along the arch.
  • Taping for Runner’s Knee
    Taping can help improve running mechanics by guiding the knee’s movement. KT tape and Leukotape are common options. Consult a physiotherapist to learn proper taping techniques.
  • Custom Orthotics for Patellofemoral Syndrome
    Everyone’s feet are different, and your arch might not be ideal for running. Custom orthotics can help ensure correct force transfer from your foot to your knee. Your physiotherapist may recommend them after assessing your arches.
  • Bracing for Runner’s Knee
    Correcting muscle imbalances takes time, and your bone structure might make you prone to patellofemoral syndrome. A knee brace can help maintain proper knee mechanics. Consult your physiotherapist to choose the right brace for you.

How Long Does Runner’s Knee Take to Heal?

A runner’s knee recovery time varies. Patellofemoral syndrome usually takes 4-6 weeks to fully recover with proper treatment and rest. However, the cause of Runner’s Knee can be different. Consulting your physiotherapist to create a custom plan for your specific issues can speed up your recovery.

Concluding Thoughts

Patellofemoral syndrome is a common condition for athletes. Luckily, treatment approaches are often non-invasive. However, a runner’s knee recovery time is a maximum of 8 weeks, which can also be accelerated.

For correct treatment and advice, visit Dr. Gombera at Mufaddal Gombera, MD. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializes in sports medicine and knee injuries without surgery. Dial (713) 794-3457 to arrange an appointment.

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Dr. Gombera

Dr. Gombera, earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Michigan. Expanding his expertise, he undertook a sports medicine and arthroscopy fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago. Recognized as a Super Doctors Rising Star and honored for patient care excellence at the University of Michigan, he holds multiple certifications and licenses, solidifying his dedication to delivering exceptional medical services.

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