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What is Runner's Knee? Will a running gait analysis help?

Running is a popular and accessible form of exercise, offering numerous physical and mental health benefits. However, like any physical activity, it comes with its fair share of risks. One common ailment that plagues runners is Patellofemoral Syndrome, often referred to as Runner's Knee. In this blog, we will explore the intricacies of Patellofemoral Syndrome, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. Moreover, we will delve into the importance of running gait analysis in preventing and managing this condition.

What is Patellofemoral Syndrome (PFS)?

Patellofemoral Syndrome, commonly known as Runner's Knee, is a painful knee condition that primarily affects runners but can also affect individuals involved in other physical activities. PFS is characterized by pain around the patella (kneecap) and the front of the knee. The pain typically worsens when bending the knee, climbing and descending stairs, running down hill or squatting.

What Causes of PFS?

PFS often occurs due to a combination of factors, including:

  • Malalignment: Poor alignment of the patella within the femoral groove can lead to increased stress on the knee joint during movements.
  • Overuse: Repetitive stress on the knee joint, such as running long distances without proper training or rest, can contribute to PFS.
  • Muscular Imbalances: Weakness or tightness in certain leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps and hamstrings, can alter the patellar tracking and increase the risk of PFS.
  • Biomechanical Issues: Abnormalities in the way the foot strikes the ground while running, known as running gait abnormalities, can also play a role in the development of PFS.

Symptoms of PFS

The symptoms of PFS can vary in intensity and duration but often include:

  • Pain: Dull, aching pain around or behind the kneecap, especially when bending the knee.
  • Swelling: Mild to moderate swelling of the knee joint.
  • Crepitus: A grinding or popping sensation in the knee during movement.
  • Difficulty Performing Activities: Pain may interfere with activities like running, climbing stairs, or sitting for extended periods.
  • Weakness and Instability: Some individuals may experience weakness or instability in the affected knee.

 The Role of Running Gait Analysis

What is Running Gait Analysis?

Running gait analysis is a comprehensive assessment of an individual's running mechanics, which includes the examination of foot strike pattern, stride length, step frequency, joint angles and other aspects of running form. This analysis can be conducted using various methods, including video analysis, pressure sensors, and motion-capture technology.

The Benefits of Running Gait Analysis

  • Identifying Gait Abnormalities: Running gait analysis helps in identifying any biomechanical issues or abnormalities in the way a person runs. These issues can contribute to conditions like PFS.
  • Customized Training Plans: Based on the analysis results, experts can create personalized training plans to address specific weaknesses or imbalances in a runner's gait, reducing the risk of PFS.
  • Footwear Recommendations: Gait analysis can guide individuals in selecting the most suitable running shoes to correct or accommodate their specific gait patterns.
  • Injury Prevention: By addressing gait abnormalities early on, runners can prevent overuse injuries, such as PFS, and reduce the likelihood of other running-related injuries.

Evidence Supporting Running Gait Analysis

  • Reducing the Risk of PFS - Numerous studies have shown that running gait analysis can be an effective tool in reducing the risk of developing PFS. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (2016) found that runners who underwent gait analysis and received tailored interventions experienced a significant reduction in knee pain and improved patellar alignment. This suggests that gait analysis can help identify and address factors contributing to PFS.
  • Improving Running Efficiency - Gait analysis not only helps prevent injuries but can also enhance running performance. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2018) demonstrated that runners who underwent gait analysis and received gait retraining improved their running efficiency and reduced their risk of injuries, including PFS. This underscores the value of gait analysis as a multifaceted tool for runners.
  • Personalized Rehabilitation - For individuals already dealing with PFS, gait analysis plays a crucial role in designing personalized rehabilitation programs. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine (2019) highlighted that runners with PFS who underwent gait analysis-based rehabilitation experienced quicker recovery and were less likely to experience a recurrence of symptoms.
  •  Enhancing Training Outcomes - Gait analysis isn't just for those with injuries; it's also valuable for runners looking to optimize their training. Research in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (2017) revealed that runners who incorporated gait analysis into their training routines achieved better outcomes in terms of improved running form and reduced injury risk.


Patellofemoral Syndrome, or Runner's Knee, can be a debilitating condition for runners and other physically active individuals. However, with the help of running gait analysis, the risk of developing PFS can be significantly reduced. This evidence-based approach not only identifies and addresses biomechanical issues contributing to PFS but also improves running performance and enhances injury prevention strategies. So, if you're a runner or considering taking up running, investing in a running gait analysis could be one of the wisest decisions you make for your long-term health and running enjoyment. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, and running gait analysis can play a pivotal role in keeping you on the track, pain-free, and running strong.