Is there a more common injury for the new or beginner runner other than knee pain?
Probably not. Almost a third of all runners will suffer with knee pain, and many of those will be affected when they start running.
Last week I heard of another sufferer; a lady who recently started running to train for the London Marathon. Like many new runners she went to her doctor for advice and treatment. She was told that she’d probably need knee surgery to correct the damage that running had caused.
I am not going to delve here into the depths of the causes and treatments of knee pain in runners because this is just a short advisory article about what not to do. What I will say is that any runner suffering with knee pain should seek a proper diagnosis and treatment advice from a sports injury specialist. We hear of too many new runners who have consulted their doctor about their knee pain and ended up with treatment by knife. Although I’ve not asked all of them, most have been dissatisfied by the outcome. Almost universally, they are dissatisfied because as a result they are unable to run as they did before. Some have had to stop completely, whilst others have had to greatly reduce the level of running they can cope with.
Surgery is irreversible, it should be a ‘last resort’ treatment and yet all too often it is the first port of call.
The problem with runner’s knee (and we are talking specifically about patellofemoral pain not ITB pain*), is that it can worsen quickly and it doesn’t usually go away unless the runner changes something about their body or the way they run. Runners make impatient patients and the new runner will often take what they perceive to be the quickest fix. Of course, the correct treatment will depend on the individual, but most often it will include muscle strengthening and/or correction of the alignment by way orthotics or (shoe inserts).
Hopefully, you will never suffer with knee pain, but if — like many runners — you do, and if you hear the word ‘surgery’, run in another direction as quick as you can. You’ll end up learning more about your running and more important than that you’ll reduce the chances of the injury stopping you running in the future.
* ITB or iliotibial band pain is often also (incorrectly) called runners’ knee. The cause and treatment is quite different to that of patelloformerol PF pain. Nevertheless, the same advice holds regarding surgery.