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What causes Runners Knee? Best supplements to take.

Posted by George Parker on
<b> What causes Runners Knee? Best supplements to take.</b>

Understanding Runner's Knee: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

By George Parker, Georgia Tech Chemist & Engineer, 7x Boston Marathon Qualifying Runner, and Founder of Peregrune®, which engineers vitamins and supplements exclusively for runners.

Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is a common ailment among runners and athletes. It involves pain around or behind the kneecap, often worsening with activities such as running, squatting, or climbing stairs. This blog will explore what runner's knee is, what causes it, and how supplements can help improve this condition.

What is Runner's Knee?

Runner’s knee refers to pain at the front of the knee and around the patella, or kneecap. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, this pain is often due to irritation of the soft tissues or lining of the knee, wear to the cartilage, or strain to the tendons . This condition can affect one or both knees and can be persistent, impacting an athlete's ability to train and compete.

What Causes Runner's Knee?

The exact cause of runner’s knee can vary, but several factors contribute to its development:

  1. Overuse: Repeated stress on the knee joint from activities like running, jumping, and cycling can lead to runner’s knee. Overuse can irritate the nerves around the kneecap and strain the tendons, causing pain and inflammation.

  2. Misalignment: Misalignment of the bones from the hips to the ankles can put additional pressure on the knee. If the kneecap is out of place, it can cause pain when the leg moves.

  3. Muscle Imbalance or Weakness: Weak thigh muscles are less able to absorb the shock of physical activity, putting more strain on the knee. Additionally, tight hamstrings and calf muscles can pull on the knee joint, causing pain.

  4. Injury: Direct trauma to the knee, such as a fall or a blow, can cause runner’s knee. Additionally, past knee injuries can make the knee more susceptible to this condition.

  5. Foot Problems: Flat feet or overpronation can lead to misalignment of the knee and contribute to runner’s knee. The way your foot hits the ground can affect how your knee absorbs impact.

What Supplements Can Help Improve Runner's Knee?

While proper training, rest, and physical therapy are essential for managing runner’s knee, certain supplements can also support knee health and aid in recovery. Here are three key supplements that may help:

  1. Glucosamine and Chondroitin: These supplements are often used to support joint health. Glucosamine helps maintain the cartilage in your joints and may have an anti-inflammatory effect, while chondroitin helps prevent cartilage breakdown and promotes its repair. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research found that glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation can be effective in reducing pain and improving function in individuals with knee osteoarthritis, which shares some characteristics with runner’s knee .

  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s, found in fish oil supplements, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce joint pain and stiffness. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the production of inflammatory molecules, which may help alleviate symptoms of runner’s knee .

  3. Turmeric (Curcumin): Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. A review in the Journal of Medicinal Food highlighted that curcumin can help reduce pain and improve function in joint-related conditions, making it a valuable supplement for managing runner’s knee .


Runner’s knee is a common condition that can be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse, misalignment, muscle imbalance, injury, and foot problems. Managing this condition requires a comprehensive approach that includes proper training, rest, physical therapy, and potentially beneficial supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and turmeric. By understanding and addressing the underlying causes of runner’s knee, runners can take proactive steps to alleviate pain and improve their knee health, allowing them to continue enjoying their favorite activities.


1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (n.d.). Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner's Knee).

2. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research. (2018). Efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis.

3. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2016). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation.

4. Journal of Medicinal Food. (2017). The effects of curcumin on knee osteoarthritis.

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