Do you experience pain under or around your kneecap? Is it painful for you to keep your knee bent for too long or when you exercise? These are common symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome. Patellofemoral pain syndrome affects around 1 in every four people, usually those who are more athletic. It is also more common in women, as well as people under the age of 50. Patellofemoral pain syndrome occurs when the kneecap, also known as the patella, is unable to correctly track on the bottom end of the thigh bone or femur. When you bend and straighten your knee, the kneecap should move up and down within the groove along a straight line. When the kneecap no longer follows this line and tracks further outside the femur, you will experience pain.
Causes of the patellofemoral syndrome include overuse or increased physical use of your knee. In women, the syndrome occurs as a result of their wider hips. If the position of the patella on the femur is slightly higher than normal, the pain will occur. Additionally, the presence of flat feet or excessive foot pronation can also lead to the pain associated with the patellofemoral syndrome.
This exercise helps to isolate the vastus medialis muscle in the thigh. It is important to be able to feel this muscle contracting to strengthen it, reducing pain.
Sit on the floor and place a rolled-up towel or foam roller underneath your knee, bending it slightly. Put your hand on the vastus medialis muscle to feel it contract. This is located just above the kneecap and slightly to the inside of the knee. Contract the muscle and hold for 3-5 seconds before relaxing. Your foot should lift off the floor slightly when you straighten your knee. Repeat 10 times per session and perform the exercise 3-5 sessions per day, if the pain allows.
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