Don't Let Patellar Tracking Disorder Keep You From Your Victory
You may have heard it called by different names; Patellar tracking disorder, patello-femoral syndrome, or runner’s knee. Whatever you know it by, if you are a runner, odds are you know someone who has dealt with this nagging injury or maybe you have even been a victim yourself. As a sport specific chiropractor in Naperville Illinois that specializes in musculoskeletal issues in athletes, this is one of the more common issues we see with our runners. At my clinic, Victory Rehab, we have had great success in identifying this nagging injury, developing treatment strategies, and working with high level athletes in injury prevention. So let’s discuss what patellar tracking disorder is, how it is caused, the long term effects, and the most effective ways to prevent and treat this annoying sports injury.
First, let’s discuss the cause. Patellar tracking or runner’s knee is often caused by inflammation under and around the knee in the patellar tendon and the surrounding soft tissue. The reason this happens is due to an imbalance in the surrounding muscles, whether it be weakness or tightness in the quadriceps muscles. In a perfect world our patella, or knee cap, should track nice and neatly between two boney groves when we flex our legs. However, if you have overtrained or undertrained certain muscle groups in the muscles above the knee (something runner’s are notorious for) then your patella will start to pull to one side or the other. This creates a rubbing effect of the knee cap and puts a lot more twisting or torsion through the patellar tendon itself. Over time it becomes painful. Signs of runner’s knee are pain under or around the knee cap, running or even walking down hill might be painful, and if it is bad enough you may start to feel knee pain even when you are going through normal daily activities.
Luckily the long term effects typically are just nagging pain and more serious problems rarely happen as a result of runner’s knee. That’s great to hear for most people, but runner’s are a different breed, and shutting down running to allow for healing is just not an option for most.
One of the best ways we deal with runner’s knee at our Naperville chiropractic office is prevention. If you can bring balance to your quadriceps muscles and other knee stabilizers before tracking even becomes an issue then it’s something that shouldn’t arise in the first place. Given the repetitive stress nature of running and the fact that it is a very linear activity, cross training muscle groups for more lateral movements helps immensely. Things like lateral slides, side lunges, and sumo deadlifts are a great start. Someone who is well versed in specialized exercises for runner’s is a great resource. Rolling out muscles is another great approach. Sometimes stretching alone can’t impact your tight tissues enough, so rolling out with a foam roller is a great way to attach the areas of tightness around your knee. As long as there isn’t visible inflammation around the knee, heating is the way to go. Heat will bring blood flow to the area and help any damaged tissues heal. Lastly, try to sit less. As humans we are not designed to sit for long periods of time even though most of us do. Sitting tightens certain muscle groups that can lead to patellar tracking issues so finding ways to stand and move around more in the office is a great way to go.
As the running season is upon us it is important to get out ahead of these types of injuries to have the most successful, injury free, year yet. If you are experiencing generalized knee pain and stretching and strength training isn’t helping, it may be time to see a professional. At Victory Rehab we have over 15 years of experience dealing with runner’s and their repetitive injuries. Our practice is conveniently located in Naperville right in the heart of the suburban Chicago running scene.