GREG LARAIA, ATC & STREETS 101 FOUNDER
Medial knee pain can be a frustrating injury. It may look simple and straightforward, but it’s actually pretty complex. You could be dealing with a strained muscle or tendon above or below the knee, a sprained ligament of the knee (such as the MCL), bursitis at any of the many bursa in the knee, a meniscus injury or nerve entrapment, to name a few.
I recently checked out an article about how running relates to medial knee pain, specifically excluding boney stress injuries. All of the patients who were part of this study suffered medial knee pain and had no specific diagnosis that could be found with or without imaging. All participants ran between ten to thirty miles per week.
Two specific interventions were used for all of the participants:
Soft tissue work to the semimembranosus to reduce tightness and tension
Running cues to reduce overstriding and to teach landing underneath the center of mass
These were the only interventions used to treat medial knee pain in this study. Results showed that with just the semimembranosus treatment there was an 89% reduction in pain. Then when running cues were introduced, occurrences of knee pain were prevented.
Because chronic medial knee pain can be so vague, and it’s hard to pinpoint a specific cause or diagnosis, these results are promising. These are two simple interventions that can be easily applied. Now, this doesn’t mean this is a cure-all solution for medial knee pain! It’s a great starting point for a lot of athletes.
The importance of stride mechanics should be a priority for athletes and runners alike, regardless of injury. Improving mechanics is essential for a healthy long-term runner.
Fisher R Nye NS Soles J Waldhelm A Gottfredson R “Overstride-induced medial knee dermopathy: an exploration case series”. Journal of Athletic Training. 2020; 55(12):1255-1261