Over the years it has been called anterior knee pain, runner’s knee etc. I think patients put it the best, “the front of my knee hurts”. Here, we call it Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). Knee pain is the most common injury seen in runners and  is something we treat all the time in our clinic.  It is most commonly described as sharp pain that occurs around your patellar tendon which attaches your knee cap to your lower leg. It usually happens due to our knees working too much, too soon, too fast, or overload.   Do you Think that you might have it? Here is a small quiz to find out.

Does the front of your knee hurt, just below or at the knee cap?

Does the pain show up with activities such as going down stairs, running or squatting?

Is it overly bothersome and stopping you from performing weekly your mileage?

If you answered yes to at least one of the questions above keep reading!

It’s not the end of the world and can be an easy problem to fix, you just have to be a little patient on the front end. In this blog, We want to show you two easy things you can do at home yourself to decrease your pain! 

Step 1: Hip Strengthening

Our hips are an integral part of stability in our legs, if we are weak then it can have a huge impact on your everything down the line i.e. knees, ankles and feet. Running is basically single leg squats over and over again, so having strong and stable hips is a pre-requisite to running. Here are some of our favorite exercises to get your hips going.  We suggest hip strengthening exercises need to be done at least 2 times per week for any runner looking to be pain free. Performing 2-3 sets of 10-15 of the following is a great place to start. 

Hip Airplanes

CONTROL is the name of the game! Move slow through the exercise so you can learn how to control your body over your hip. If you do it right you should feel a slow burn and it becomes a total body exercise really quick.

Single Leg Glute Bridge


ISOLATE is what to think about with this exercise, this should hit heavy on your glute and hamstring. Signs of fatigue would be low back pain, so if you start to feel more strain in your back than your leg, take a break or switch to the other side. 

Clams with Side Bridge


STABILIZE is the motto for this exercise. The only part moving in the exercise is the leg top leg performing the clam. Keep your abs tight but without holding your breath. 

Step 2: Increasing Your Cadence 

Bramah et el did a study that showed us increasing your cadence or your step rate while running by 10% improves your running form and thus decreases pain. Cadence is how many times your feet hit the ground in a minute. Ideally to control pain, our feet hit more times in a minute which is basically taking shorter strides. I consider this the “work smart not hard” option on how to decrease your pain. There are a couple of ways to calculate your cadence. Many people have a watch these days that tracks their exercise, so you can use that as your resource. Usually you can choose to have it on your display while recording your run or you can find it  after completing a run when you look at the summary. When all else fails you can also calculate it manually with the equation below.

Cadence = (# of times 1 foot hits the ground in one minute) x 2 

Once you know your cadence, there are some helpful tools to help you increase it. The “work smart not hard way” is using Spotify. You can search for a running playlist created with specific BPM (beats per minute) that will equate to your steps per minute. They are a great and simple way to help you keep track of your cadence without overthinking it. 


Making these small changes can have a big impact on your pain. Try and stay consistent with these over a 2-3 week period. If you find yourself in the same spot, get help! The longer the pain lingers the longer it takes to fix. Find a physical therapist in your area who can help give you more specific instructions and guidance based on your particular needs.




Bramah, C., Preece, S. J., Gill, N., & Herrington, L. (2019). A 10% Increase in Step Rate Improves Running Kinematics and Clinical Outcomes in Runners With Patellofemoral Pain at 4 Weeks and 3 Months

Article Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0363546519879693