Injury FAQs

Runner's Knee

What is it?

Runner’s Knee – or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) – has its name for one reason as it is an ailment most commonly found in runners. Stress from running may cause irritation where the kneecap (patella) rests on the thighbone and the resulting pain can be sharp and sudden or dull and chronic. The pain may disappear while you're running, only to return again after the workout.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome can affect one or both knees and is found in mostly younger, recreational runners and twice as many women as men, as women tend to have wider hips, resulting in a greater angling of the thighbone to the knee, which puts the kneecap under additional stress. Symptoms include tenderness behind or around the patella, usually toward its center. Pain may be felt toward the back of the knee, a sense of cracking or that the knee's giving out. Steps, hills, and uneven terrain can aggravate PFPS.

What Causes It?

There is no single cause of runner's knee. The cause can either be biomechanical—the patella may be larger on the outside than it is on the inside, it may sit too high in the femoral groove, or it may dislocate easily. Worn cartilage in the knee joint reduces shock absorption. High-arched feet provide less cushioning, or flat feet or knees that turn in or out excessively can pull the patella sideways.

runner's knee 

The cause can also be muscular in nature. Tight hamstring and calf muscles put additional pressure on the knee, and weak quadriceps muscles can cause the patella to track out of alignment. Just the repetitive force of a normal running stride alone can be enough to bring on pain.

How Can I Treat It?

  • Decrease your mileage
  • Avoid knee-bending activities, canted surfaces, and downward stairs and slopes until the pain subsides

How Can I Prevent It?

  • Meet with a FIT associate to make sure you are wearing the proper footwear
  • Add an insole, such as Superfeet, to your shoe to provide additional support
  • Add strengthening and stretching exercises for the hamstring and calf muscles
  • Gradually increase mileage – no more than 10% of your previous week mileage
  • Run on softer, more giving surfaces

Products That Helps Prevent and Treat This Ailment

Zamst RK-1


The dual density pad anchors the spiral strap below the knee, keeping the lower leg from rotating internally while maintaining proper alignment.

RK-1 Chart

Resin stays increase proprioception to keep the leg in a neutral position while ROM-Tech butterfly shape pattern on the backside of the brace assists with knee flexion and extension.

RK-1 flap

The a-Fit technology allows an anatomically correct fit, while the Flyweight design provides an ultra-thin, lightweight material that is comfortable and the V-Tech flow through design allows ventilation while in motion.

Zamst EK-3 

EK-3 Hero

This moderate knee support offers Exo-Tech Dual Technology to provide both medial (MCL) and lateral (LCL) stabilization. 

EK-3 Flap

The I-Fit Technology is a dual front open panel design, with Velcro fasteners wrapping around the knee to create a custom fit with adjustable, individualized compression. 

EK-3 Back

Backside V-Tech Ventilation material enhances cooling while in motion.

Find both of these products at any of our Fleet Feet Sports -- Chicagoland locations.

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