knee pain

5 ways to help anterior knee pain

Patellofemoral pain syndrome also known as PFPS, is a bunch of long words that simply means irritating pain that is re-occurring in the front of the knee (anterior knee pain). Current research states that this is caused by a functional misalignment in the hips and trunk muscles. It was thought that it could be down to the angle between the knees, ankles and hips. But some research doesn’t support this theory. Is it because the people in these studies are already fit for running, boot camps or sport? Is it due to other muscular imbalances in the body?


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Foam rolling the inner thigh (groins) can be useful to free up the knee during squats.


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Foam rolling can also help reduce myofascial tightness that could also be a contributing factor to knee pain.

Another study suggests stabilising the core muscles to help the recovery with this type of knee pain. There are lots of factors affecting anterior knee pain. It could be an imbalance between the inner and outer quads. The groins and the lower back could also be a contributing factor. That is why I believe in taking a holistic approach when it comes to treating injuries, the site of pain is not always the cause of pain. This statement is especially true when it comes to the knees. It is extremely important to keep the knees in ideal alignment and to do the correct movement pattern during exercise. And this is something we forget about – movement sequencing. So here are 5 things you should do to try and get rid of that knee pain:


  1. Get those glutes activated. Glutes tend to switch off during the day when we sit on them all day at work, so going out for a run without firing your glutes can cause all sorts of issues for the lower limb. Check out these easy glute activation exercises – Glute Bridge video and Fire Hydrants.
  2. Work your posterior chain. Once the glutes are activated, it would be wise to start strengthening them along with your hamstrings. The best options to reduce stress on the front of the knee that helps strengthen the glutes are deadlifts, weighted glute bridges and box squats.
  3. Improve your landing mechanics. Loud runners normally get knee pain because they are not landing softly or their knees cave inwards. Working on squat jump technique can be a good start. Try landing softly on the balls of your feet making sure your knees are slightly bent, avoid locking your knees. Add a resistance band around the knees to avoid the knees falling inwards.
  4. Work on adductor mobility. Most people with weak glutes and hip abductors have tight groins so it is important to stretch these out before beginning your gym routine. It’s hard to bring your knees outwards when you have groins pulling them inwards. Try some Groin stretching and the Adductor squat stretch.
  5. Turn the feet outwards. This will help activate and strengthen the VMO (inner quads). If this muscle is weak, you will feel your kneecap click or it may feel stuck when you move and this will cause pain in the front of the knee. For this rehab cue, it is important it is assessed with a health professional as foot mechanics is different in everyone. You can pretty much do any exercise with feet turned out – squats, leg extension, leg raises etc. Anything that is working your quads, turn the feet out.

Hopefully these tips for anterior knee pain will be able to get you back doing what you love whether it’s setting personal bests, running a half marathon or getting back to a sport you enjoy.