Treatments for running ailments

Running as a sport

Runner's knee is more properly known as chondromalacia patellae, a linguistic hybrid from the Greek words for "cartilage" and "softness" and the Latin word for "a small plate" (the kneecap). It is the most common injury among runners. Although its precise cause is obscure, it is associated with excessive wear between the kneecap and the end of the femur, the upper leg bone.

When the bones mesh properly, the kneecap moves smoothly within an indentation at the lower end of the femur. Ocassionally, however, alignment is incorrect, and instead of staying in the hollow where it belongs, the kneecap grinds against one of the slopes in the indentation. If the grinding is prolonged, some of the kneecap's cartilage becomes worn. Pain, stiffnes and swelling result.

To cure runner's knee (chondromalacia), many doctors recommend that you stop running. Usually, however, that's not necessary. Runner's knee is often relieved simply by cutting down temporarily on mileage, doing strengthening exercises for the quadriceps muscles and running on a surface that slopes downward toward the injured side - a road with a high crown, for example. (For chondromalacia of the right knee, run with traffic; for chrondromalacia of the left knee, against it.)

However, many doctors feel that despite its name runner's knee is not really a knee problem at all but a foot problem, caused by faulty weight-bearing characteristics. This is borne out by the fact that chondromalacia often disappears after a runner inserts - sometimes called orthotics - that change the foot's support patterns and thus shift the relationship of the kneecap and femur. Therefore, if your runner's knee is stubborn, see a podiatrist, preferably one who regularly treats athletes.

According to some doctors, one of the causes of chondromalacia is Morton's toe. Named after Dr. Dudley Morton, author of a 1935 study called The Human Foot: Its Evolution, Physiology and Functional Disorders, Morton's toe is nothing more than a condition in which the first toe is shorter than the second (although an unusually mobile first toe often has the same effect). Because the first toe normally absorbs twice the stress borne by the other four toes combined, problems can develop in the heel, the leg, the knee and even the back when it fails to do so its job.

Whatever the role of Morton's toe in chondromalacia and other maladies, there is no invariable cause-and-effect relationship. Many people with Morton's tone never develop any trouble.

The information contained in this article in curing runner's knee can be effectively applied if you also take care of your knee and feet by giving these some rest after running.