Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Got Patellofemoral Pain?

A recent case study in the Journal of Orthopedic Sports Physical Therapy(JOSPT) found that runners with patellofemoral pain("runner's knee") were more likely to heel strike. Heel striking has shown to increase stress and loading on the lower leg and knee. Vibram(and a slew of other minimal heel drop shoes) has made a lot of money by selling people on the need to avoid heel striking while running.

The key to this study was, not that they needed to change their footwear, but rather they needed to change their mechanics. Within eight sessions of practicing to run on either mid or forefoot, the runners were able to then continue to perform this style at a 3 month follow-up. More importantly though, the runners reported decreased pain as well as one runner reporting a 5 minute improvement in her 10K time!

Things to take into consideration however was that this was a case study so there were only three participants. Additionally, these were people who already had had knee pain. People prone to Achilles Tendonitis may not find modifying their gait to benefit them at all since it could in fact put more stress on that tendon. Additionally, studies have shown a worse effeciency with running at any style other than your "own" so working on your mechanics immediately prior to an "A" race may not be of benefit.

If you have been diagnosed with "runner's knee" and already are doing hip and quadriceps strength to address any physical misalignments, working on modifying your foot strike may be something to consider. Or at least take a look at the article: Cheung RTH, Davis IS. Landing Pattern Modification to Improve Patellofemoral Pain in Runners: A Case Series. JOSPT 2011. 21(12).

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