Foam Rolling for Runner's Knee (PFPS)

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4.7out of 5
Not improved(1)
Improved(4)
Almost cured(8)
Cured(17)
  • 03
    Dec2015
    • Injury Status Cured

    Treatment Ratings

      Cured
      Stretching, Strengthening Exercises, Supplements, Proper Running Form, Foam Rolling

    I'm 34, 6'0", 185 lbs, and have run six marathons (and a zillion shorter distances). Our body types are probably similar. I worry a little that most runners in my echelon (I'm a 1:27 half / 3:20 full marathoner) have a different body type and less mass than me. Knee problems have always been an issue. But I do a lot of things to try to mitigate it:
    Static stretching after each run, like 10 minutes worth. I never ever skip this.
    I take glucosamine/chondroitin supplements. They're advertised as helping your cartilage, but their benefits haven't been conclusively proven. I figure at worst they're placebos, at best they're helping my knees stay in the game longer.
    Focus on good running form. For a long time (until the past six months) I was running in very heavy shoes that promote heel striking. I switched to entry-level Newtons and my form has gotten noticeably better, which I think has to be better for my body mechanics generally and my knees specifically.
    Spent decent time at the gym doing leg/core strengthening (along with upper body/other stuff). I used to completely skip this, thinking that the gym worked my upper body and running worked my lower body. That was a dumb thing to think. Hips, knees, and ankles need proper support from the muscles around them.
    Before every run I do the foam roll to loosen up my IT bands on the outsides of my legs. This helps ensure that they don't get tight and end up pulling my kneecap slightly out of alignment.
    Even given all of the above, my Dad (age 68) still likes to remind me of all his old pals who ran lots in their younger years and now have bad knees. I like to think that I'm doing it right and they didn't, that my training plan is better, that I have the benefit of modern shoes that they didn't. But the way I see it: even if I do end up with bad knees, I'd rather have spent my peak years using my body to its fullest rather than sitting on the sidelines preserving myself for retirement.


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  • 03
    Dec2015
    • Injury Status Recovering

    Treatment Ratings

      Almost Cured
      Physical Therapy, Rest, Supportive Shoes, Strengthening Exercises, Cross training, Foam Rolling

    in my case -
    got MRI diagnosis was ligaments pulling kneecap up too far toward the quad
    did a bunch of physical therapy got a lot better after a few months, but honestly don't run as much since
    if you want to stay healthy running:
    get right shoes, replace them often if you have opportunities to run miles on something that's not pavement, take them. also cross train with e.g. biking, swimming, other low-impact
    stretch well (in my case, especially quads. also hamstring, calves, hip flexors - Google those running stretches). flexibility improves your form and posture and distributes strain. Yoga seems great but can't say I've ever managed to get into it. foam roll that quad and ligament
    LIGHT squats, lunges, reverse lunges, side lunges, agility drills vary the training, include hills, interval training
    truth is, some people are sound and run into old age, quite a lot of us are not and something gives out, knees are a prime candidate. in my case, adding 10-20 lbs didn't help ease the strain on joints. like a car, change the oil, take care of yourself and hope for the best. This has been the best for me and so far I'm good.


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  • 03
    Dec2015
    • Injury Status Cured

    Treatment Ratings

      Cured
      Cross training
      Improved
      Physical Therapy, Stretching, Foam Rolling

    I had runner's knee for 2 years. I thought it was never going away. I tried everything from foam roller, stretching, going to PT.
    What worked in the end was cross training. I needed to strengthen my quads. Biking, hiking, swimming, climbing stairs did the trick. I could not only run everyday without switching it up.


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  • 13
    Nov2015

    Treatment Ratings

      Cured
      Massage, Strengthening Exercises, Foam Rolling

    I've had runner's knee off and on for the past year. I saw my Sports Med doctor and he diagnosed me with runner's knee and I received a script for PT. Doing the exercises with the physical therapist wasn't that big of deal but rather learning the proper exercises for home use to strengthen the muscles surrounding my knee as well as my hip and glutes was the most beneficial. In addition, I make sure to foam roll before and after any runs longer than 5 miles (especially my IT band). And I see a massage therapist every other week to work on tight leg muscles.

    I do find that sitting with bent legs causes the worst knee pain of all so I make sure to sit with straight legs whenever possible and take walking breaks often. It was often the worst during long drives so I try to trade off driving to reduce the number of hours in a seated position.

    All of these have resolved my knee issues.


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  • 06
    Oct2015
    • Injury Status Cured

    Treatment Ratings

      Cured
      Supportive Shoes, Strengthening Exercises, Proper Running Form, Foam Rolling

    Im no expert but I have a similar story. I completed my first half marathon and then the following week when I tried to run again my knee was very painful and felt like it was going to give out. I waited another few days and tried again with the same result. I tried a few exercisers from the physio and some foam rolling which I think helped a bit but I still wasn't 100%.
    After reading some stuff online I decided to go and see someone about my running form. Turns out i was heel striking which can apparently lead to higher shock loads on your knees than a mid foot strike.
    He was able to fix my running form immediately. He told me to download a metronome app for my phone, set it to 180 beats per minute, listen to it when running and step at every beat (180 steps per minute). Apparently this is an efficient cadence and also helps to prevent you landing with your foot out in front of you and landing on the heel (you don't have time to move your leg that far comfortably). He also recommended a particular shoe for me.
    Worked wonders for my knee. It works your calves a lot more so you have to ease into it, but once you're running at that 180bpm it feels really comfortable and efficient. After a week or two you get the rhythm ingrained and dont need the metronome any more either.
    Like I said, no expert, just my story ;-)


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  • 21
    Aug2015
    • Injury Status Recovering

    Treatment Ratings

      Improved
      Ice, Strengthening Exercises, Cross training, Foam Rolling

    I think this is it for my knee pain as well. There's a time when I push hard enough (running/back squatting) where my knee starts to ache the next couple of days. It become worse when I sit and layoff of it. Then my CrossFit coach (pretty sure CF added to the reason I have these knee probs) said after a while of resting your quads get weaker and other muscles are compensating for it leading to knee aching. He suggested to ice my and compress my knee so any swelling goes down then slowly do quad exercises to help strengthen them till the aching passes.
    This seems to be my solution that works for me. Recently I've been hitting some gains in the gym on my squat and do some all out sprints for cardio. After one sprint session I felt that pain in my right knee and was like "not again". Next day it became painful to break parallel on a squat.
    For two weeks I laid off squatting and running and did low impact cycling and elliptical for my cardio. I iced my knee night and morning to help with the pain, then wore a sleeve while a slept and and during work to keep it warm always. Before a work out I warmed up more by cycling and foam rolling the quad. Pain was gone when warmed up.
    After two week knee felt better and I'm ramping up the weight in my squats now. Now going into week three I'm gonna start on the treadmill and see if it flares up. I'm hoping to get back to my squat weight in a few weeks.
    It's now a constant balance of finding that line and not crossing that line for the rest of my life. If I do cross it, I have to take a few steps back and push on. I can live with that as frustrating as it is.
    I'm in my early 30s and don't want a serious knee probs getting older, since it'll be harder to deal with later in life. I've yet to have kids and want to be active in their lives when the time comes, yet I don't want to be a coach potato just to avoid injury. I love being active and hope to be no matter what age I'm at.


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  • 24
    Nov2014
    • Injury Status Cured
    • Chronicity 6-18 Months

    Treatment Ratings

      Cured
      NSAIDs - Anti Inflammatory drugs, Ice, Rest, Strengthening Exercises, Foam Rolling

    I had ITBS which I guess is a kind of runners knee, I got it from doubling my mileage/overuse. At first I tried rest coupled with icing and ibuprofen for a month which did nothing. Afterwards I did lateral leg raises and some clamshell stretches, 30 of each a day along with some one legged squats 10x3 daily. I improved alot from doing those few bits and I also found foam rolling and sprinting up hills/cycling up hills really great. All in all, I messed up and was injured from February this year up until August thereabouts but feel I would have recovered much faster had I worked my core and tackled hills earlier on. Good luck with recovery:) Be careful running~


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  • 15
    Oct2013
    • Injury Status Recovering

    Treatment Ratings

      Almost Cured
      Physical Therapy, Rest, Strengthening Exercises, Foam Rolling

    I have runner's knee and found a great PT. i had to stop running for a couple of weeks and concentrate on my exercises (strengthening the quads). then had to start again slowly and all has been ok. i did run a half and my runner's knee kicked in during the last 5k so i'm not sure what that was all about since my other long runs had been fine. but i'm making sure to do my exercises and foam roll.


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  • 16
    May2013
    • Injury Status In Pain

    Treatment Ratings

      Almost Cured
      NSAIDs - Anti Inflammatory drugs, Taping, Supportive Shoes, Strengthening Exercises, Foam Rolling
      Not Improved
      Brace

    The knee strap did nothing to help my PFPS.

    As for stairs, I use hand railings as crutches post-long run because my knee hurts so bad when going down. I do find that if I sit immediately after running, it's much more debilitating than if I spend time on my feet.

    Right now, I'm managing pain while working on the root cause. Definitely find your root cause instead of just getting through the pain. Eventually it will take longer and longer to recover, until you're no longer pain-free between runs. Then you'll have no option but to stop entirely until you heal.


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  • 03
    Sep2011
    • Injury Status Cured

    Treatment Ratings

      Cured
      Physical Therapy, Stretching, Strengthening Exercises, Foam Rolling

    I would definitely have it looked at also. Had knee issues a few years ago (which ended with me promising my knees to never run again) - turned out to be chondromalacia. Not saying that's what you're experiencing, but it's common enough. I also have the same issue with squats, where my knees have a marked tendency to bow in - to the point where I've had to squash my ego and reduce the amount of weight I'm squatting to keep good form.

    Ice helps when you're feeling tenderness.

    Also, foam rolling with special attention to the IT band and that spot on the inside of the knee. You'll find the spot cause it'll be sore.

    I ended up getting physical therapy and learned some great stretches and exercises - in my case I needed to strengthen the abductors, but the therapy is specific to the cause of the pain, so wouldn't necessarily apply to your knees.

    I got a lot of good info from this book. http://www.amazon.com/Heal-Your-Knees-Prevent-Surgery/dp/1590771249/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1314978187&sr=8-4


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  • 08
    Jun2011
    • Injury Status Recovering

    Treatment Ratings

      Improved
      Orthotics, Supportive Shoes, Stretching, Foam Rolling

    I have been dealing with knee problems for the past several months. Good shoes with padding and perhaps SuperFeet which are an off the shelf orthotic to align the foot (your 1st shock absorber) will help.

    Stretching or ideally using a foam roller to reduce muscle tension from the calves to the hips is another piece of what made it possible for me to do a 10K last weekend.

    The feet, knees, hips are all interrelated. If the calves are tight, they pull on the achilles tendons which can affect the way your feet work. If the hips are tight (whose aren't), the knees become the main shock absorber when you are running.

    UTube has many wonderful videos on how to use a foam roller to loosen the hips, stretch the quads etc. It hurts at first, but quickly becomes addictive because you feel so much better when the deep muscles let go, allowing everything to work more efficiently.


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  • 06
    Feb2011
    • Injury Status In Pain
    • Chronicity 0 - 6 Months

    Treatment Ratings

      Improved
      NSAIDs - Anti Inflammatory drugs, Ice, Strengthening Exercises, Foam Rolling

    It's now been two months since I first got runner's knee. And it's still not gone, and it's driving me crazy.

    I'm doing a ridiculous number of exercisesand other things each day:

    4 times a day 3x14 quad curls (60 lbs)
    4 times a day 3x14 hamstring curls (laying down, 60 lbs)
    1 time a day 3x12 hip abductor (50 lbs)
    1 time a day 3x12 hip adductor (50 lbs)
    1 time a day deadlift (45 lbs)
    2 times a day foam rolling

    1 time a day heating
    3 times a day icing

    3 advils per day

    I've been seeing a trainer and just started seeing a chiropractor. The chiropractor recommended a massage -- I've never done one of these before.

    I also just began some glute exercises (clam shells, hip bridge). I think I'm running out of muscles to work, and this problem just will NOT go away. Anyone know anything I'm missing?


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  • 17
    Jan2010
    • Chronicity 0 - 6 Months

    Treatment Ratings

      Cured
      Rest, Stretching, Strengthening Exercises, Foam Rolling

    Last month I suddenly had lots of painin my right knee when running, and the symptoms were exactly like the general description for runner's knee, but I found what it really turned out to be was my IT band rubbing against a bone in the knee area. Runner's knee is a vague term to describe something that could be a lot of things. I say take time completely off from running. Just do it. Ice the area well, and strengthen the muscles around the knee and the quads, in addition to the hips and glutes. Only do what is possible without pain. It's all about active rest. And foam roll the hell out of your legs. My IT band issues went away when I finally decided to take two weeks completely off and focus on stretching and strengthening. Now I'm back in good shape and thankful I didn't run on it or else I would still be out. I suggest you do the same, whether or not it's runner's knee.


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  • 17
    Jan2010
    • Injury Status Recovering
    • Chronicity 6-18 Months

    Treatment Ratings

      Improved
      Rest, Stretching, Strengthening Exercises
      Not Improved
      Physical Therapy, Foam Rolling

    I have tried everything. my physical therapist (who I've been seeing for four months) has had me doing regular foam rolling in addition to strengthening just about everything. I've been taking time on and off for 7 months now and still have problems (although the left knee got mostly better, the right knee started up about 5 weeks ago).


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  • 03
    Dec2015
    • Injury Status Cured

    Treatment Ratings

      Cured
      Stretching, Strengthening Exercises