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Tips to Prevent Runner's Knee

Are you an avid runner?

Have you ever experienced “runner’s knee?”

Were there stretches and exercises you had to do to recover?

In this article we will discuss runner’s knee and some exercises and stretches to prevent it.

“Runner’s knee” is used to describe knee problems around the patella or what's commonly called the kneecap. This can happen from repeated activities that put stress on the knee. Running generally can cause this disorder; however, it may also be caused by other activities like walking, skiing, biking, jumping, cycling, or playing soccer.

Runner's Knee Symptoms

A dull, aching pain around or behind the kneecap is considered “runner’s knee.” The pain may occur while doing the following activities:

  1. Running
  2. Walking
  3. Climbing
  4. Squatting
  5. Kneeling
  6. Sitting down or standing up
  7. Sitting for a long time with your knee bent

The first step for treating runner’s knee is to practice rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE).


Next, let’s look at some exercises and stretches you can do to help your runner’s knee.

Exercises for Runner’s Knee

  • Side-lying leg lift
  • Straight leg raise/lift
  • Clam exercise
  • Wall slide
  • Bridge kick
  • Step-up
  • Donkey kick

Side-lying leg lift

You should do two to three sets of fifteen repetitions per leg for the side-lying leg lift.

  1. Start by lying on your right side with your legs extended and your feet stacked.
  2. Bend your right arm, or keep it straight and rest it on your head. 
  3. Slowly and gently raise your left leg off your right leg.
  4. Then bring your leg back down and repeat.

Straight leg raise/lift

You should do two to three sets of fifteen repetitions per leg for the straight leg raise/lift.

  1. Begin by lying on your back, keeping one leg bent at a 90 degree angle with the other leg straight on the floor.
  2. In the extended leg, engage your quads and raise your leg to about a 45 degree angle. This will be about parallel to your bent leg.
  3. Hold for two seconds, then lower your leg back to the ground and repeat.

Clam exercise

You should do two to three sets of fifteen repetitions on each side for the clam exercise.

  1. Lie on your side with your knees bent and legs stacked
  2. Keep your heels together and lift your top leg to the ceiling like a “clam” shape.
  3. Hold this position for two seconds, then lower and repeat.

Wall slide

You should do two to three sets of ten to fifteen repetitions for the wall slide.

  1. Stand with you back against the wall, keep your feet about shoulder width apart and about six inches in front of your hips.
  2. Slowly slide your back and hips down the wall until your knees are at about a 45 degree angle.
  3. Hold for five seconds and then slowly stand back up. 

Bridge kick 

You should do one to three sets of six to ten repetitions per leg for the bridge kick.

  1. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and bend your knees towards the ceiling.
  2. Lift your back and hips up off the floor so that your body weight is in your feet and shoulder blades.
  3. Shift your weight onto your left foot and slowly raise your right foot off the floor until your right leg is at a 45 degree angle. Be careful not to lock your knees.
  4. Bring your foot back down without touching the floor.
  5. Then repeat with the other leg.


You should do two sets of ten repetitions per leg for the step-up.

  1. Begin by placing your right foot up on a step or box.
  2. Step up on your right leg and lift up your left foot until it is off the floor.
  3. Hold the right leg for a few seconds as it straightens and tightens. Then step back down, and repeat.

Donkey kick

Do two sets of ten repetitions per leg for the donkey kick.

  1. Start on all fours on the floor. Use a yoga mat, towel, something to cushion your knees. Keep your arms straight with your knees under your hips, wrists, and shoulders.
  2. Next, slowly lift your right leg and extend it behind you. Raise it to about your hip height and keep your foot flexed.
  3. Press your heel up towards the ceiling for a second, lower it back down. Then repeat. 

Runners Knee Stretches

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Standing quad stretch
  • Standing calf stretch
  • IT band stretch

Hamstring stretch 

Do three repetitions per leg for the hamstring stretch. 

  1. Lie on your back and extend your left leg in front of you.
  2. Slightly bend your right leg and wrap your hands behind your right thigh.
  3. Slowly pull your right leg towards you until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.
  4. Pull your leg as close to you as you can, keeping your leg as straight as possible and your heel flexed towards the ceiling.
  5. Hold the position for thirty seconds, then switch to your left leg. 

Standing quad stretch

Do two to three repetitions per leg for the standing quad stretch.

  1. Start in a standing position. Bend your right knee and bring your heel up to your glutes. Reach back with your right hand and grab your right foot.
  2. Bring your right heel as close to your glutes as you can without causing pain.
  3. Hold this position for thirty seconds and repeat on the other side.

Standing calf stretch

Do three repetitions per leg for the standing calf stretch.

  1. Stand facing the wall with your hands at eye level.
  2. Stagger your legs so that one foot is in front of the other at a comfortable distance.
  3. Keep your heels on the ground and move your front leg forward with your knee bent.
  4. Next, turn your unbent knee slightly inward and lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle.
  5. Hold this position for thirty seconds. 

IT band stretch

Do two or three repetitions per leg for the IT band stretch.

  1. Stand with your right leg crossed over your left leg.
  2. Raise your hand over your head and keep your left hand on your hip for support.
  3. Slowly lean to your left until you feel a stretch.
  4. Hold the position for thirty seconds and repeat on the other side.

Runner’s knee is obviously experienced more by runners. Regardless of how or why you have runner’s knee, there are orthopedic specialists who can help you overcome and recover from your knee injury.


Read on:

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Best Shoulder Braces for Pain Relief

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