The knee is a relatively complex joint. It’s a hinge joint with a kneecap (patella) added to assist the quadriceps function. It provides a better angle of traction on the lower leg, which results in a lot more strength to the movement without using more energy. However, repetitive and excessive loading to the quadriceps muscle complex will cause some kind of fatigue. With fatigue, the muscle looses its patella guiding qualities and the patella begins to move around more and from time to time touches the femoral cartilage – causing pain. With excessive loading and pain over a longer period the joint will react by getting irritated, inflamed and with potential cartilage damage long term. We are talking about low impact trauma and therefore rarely is instability or other issues linked to problems such as this.
With patella problems it is imperative to look at footwear, muscle tension at rest – foot and ankle position vital for recovery and a “normal” energy transfer through the body. Quadriceps strength training is very important to create a enough power to continuously protect and assure a correct execution of all movements.
There are ways of training and strengthening the quadriceps complex even if some pain is present. Kinesiology taping is highly recommended as a patella guide during running or other activities involving jumping or running. To strengthen the quadriceps complex I recommend a three-month program based on eccentric loading. Do take note that any inflammatory process in your body is a stress reaction – you need to take care of your diet and observe the art of proper rest.
I do have to emphasize that it is always recommended to see a professional Sports Doctor or Sports Physiotherapist with knee problems. Get a precise diagnosis and act accordingly.