Recently I had a discussion with a client about Runner’s Knee…. Patellar Chondromalacia, Patellar Tracking disorder and Q angle. This is a potentially painful disorder of the knee, specifically the kneecap. Basically when the kneecap tracks incorrectly through the grove of the Femur causing pain and irritation and sometimes leading to injury or deterioration of the cartilaginous surfaces.
One common contributor to this condition is an increased “Q-angle” which is essentially the amount of internal deviance at the knee. This is more common in women because of the proportionately wider hips make for a sharper angle of the femur.
Among other things specific exercise to strengthen and “turn on” the medial Quadriceps and stretching and “lengthening” myofacial massage on the Illiotibial band and the lateral Quadraceps can help to re-balance the forces on the patella. In addition to this attention to alignment is important in order to re-train leg movement to be more mechanically correct and efficient.
One great way to work on proper knee alignment is through the practice of Tai Chi. In Tai Chi students are taught to keep the knee in proper alignment throughout all movements. The movements are done slowly and with care and attention so that the new neuromuscular sequencing and alignments can be “hardwired” in to the body.
Here is a brief but fairly good description of the Q-angle and some associated issues:
In most cases runner’s knee can be corrected through the proper application of massage techniques. Sports Massage and Medical Massage can address both the tightness in the lateral quad, tensor facia lata and associated musculature as well as the weakness in the medial quadricep.