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Stretching Exercises for Runners
Written by Dr. Nada M. Khalifa   
Sunday, 12 June 2011 18:43

Knee Pain in Young Athletes

Young athletes usually get Paraptellar knee pain during the rapid growth years (ages 9-14). Children with this common condition usually have vague pain in one or both knees around the knee cap or patella. It is not known what causes the pain and x-rays and other testing will be normal. The scientific hunch is that the muscles are growing faster than they can coordinate. Fortunately, the condition gradually resolves as the adolescent reaches maturity.

The pain is made worse by certain activities, such as running, jumping, doing knee bends, walking after sitting for a long period of time, or going up and down the stairs and improves after a period of rest. Teens will generally not damage their knee by continuing with their activities, but it can cause an increase in pain. According to American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons “You won’t necessarily damage your knee by continuing to do activities. You will just hurt more”

The condition affects boys more than girls. But it affects girls, too, and the number of girls with parapatellar knee pain is increasing since more and more girls are participating in competitive sports.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors, including muscle imbalance and poor flexibility of the thigh muscles around the knee joint, improper sports training techniques, or over-training.

In some cases alignment issues can cause patello-femoral pain. The kneecap normally slides down in a groove in the front of the femur as the knee bends. Due to biomechanical factors which cause patellar misalignment, the patella may not stay in the groove but move to the side when the knee is bent. If repetitive, this lateral movement causes pain on either side of the kneecap that worsens with activity.


When the pain is acute treatment consists of rest from any activity that regularly makes the pain worse, icing, and using an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen.

Usually, the problem is solved by strengthening the quadriceps and keeping it flexible. Refer to exercises below.

Stretching Exercises for Runners

Isometric exercises

Sit with your leg straight and supported (it works well to sit on the floor or a firm bed). Tighten your thigh muscles (quadriceps) for 10 seconds at a time. Then rest the muscles for a few seconds before tightening them again. Do this for 8 to 12 repetitions, several times a day. If this is uncomfortable in the front or back of your knee, try placing a rolled up washcloth or dishtowel under your knee.

Straight leg rises for your quadriceps

Tighten your thigh muscles then lift your leg straight up away from the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, slowly lower the leg back down, and rest a few seconds. Do 8 to 12 repetitions, 3 times a day. Your physical therapist may have you add light ankle weights as you become stronger.

Quadriceps stretch

Keeping your knees next to each other, pull your foot toward your buttocks until you feel a gentle stretch across the front of your hip and down the front of your thigh. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Hamstring stretch

Lie on the floor near a doorway, with your buttocks close to the wall. Let the leg you are not stretching extend through the doorway. Put the leg you want to stretch up on the wall and straighten your knee to feel a gentle stretch at the back of your leg. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Calf stretch

Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about eye level. Put the leg you want to stretch about a step behind your other leg. Keeping your back heel on the floor, bend your front knee until you feel a stretch in the back leg. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Iliotibial band stretch

Stand with your legs crossed over one another and your feet side by side. The leg you want to stretch should be in back. Bend over and stretch toward your toes until you feel a gentle stretch in the back and outside of your leg. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 June 2011 03:40
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