The term “runner’s knee” is a blanket term for when your knee hurts. While it can be referred to many other phrases pertaining to knee pain, one such term is patellofemoral pain syndrome. We at Gray Institute® appreciate this term, as it provides an important clue to how to remove the pain.


To explain, we would like to give a nod to the movie “Good Will Hunting.” If you have seen the movie, you may know what is about to be said. If you haven’t seen the movie, you still will understand the point. The turning point of the movie is when two of the main characters – Matt Damon as “Will Hunting” and Robin Williams as “Sean Maguire” – have an interaction where Sean repeats the phrase “It’s not your fault” to Will. This allows Will to finally understand that much of what life has thrown at him is not his fault and he can now be freed to live in a more empowering manner.


“It’s not your fault” needs to be said to the knee as well. In fact, this is a common truth with the human body – the cause and the compensation are rarely one in the same. Knee pain is a compensation likely caused elsewhere in the body.  When we as Movement Professionals understand this powerful truth, we can provide more freedom in the bodies of our patients/clients/athletes so they may move – and live – in a more empowering manner.


How Can Applied Functional Science Help You?


The patella rides on the femur. The femur connects to the pelvis. Where the femur and pelvis connect is called the hip. This is the first – and perhaps most powerful – place to go to take care of the knee. In other words, many times it is the hip that causes knee pain in the first place.


Applied Functional Science® (AFS) acknowledges that the body is a Chain Reaction® that moves in all three planes of motion. AFS also acknowledges that the body needs mobility (flexibility, range of motion) and stability (strength, control of motion) to function optimally. The knee is part of that Chain Reaction. It moves in three planes of motion and, in the words of Dr. Gary Gray, is really “caught in the middle [between the foot and hip] with few places to go and no place to hide.” It really is at the mercy of the foot and the hip. If the foot and/or hip is/are not able to move well in any plane of motion, the knee is likely to be the compensation (pain) to this cause.


In other words, the knee’s ability to:

  • Go through flexion has to do with the foot’s ability to dorsiflex and the hip’s ability to flex.
  • Go through extension has to do with the foot’s ability to plantarflex and the hip’s ability to extend.
  • Go through abduction has to do with the foot’s ability to evert and the hip’s ability to adduct.
  • Go through adduction has to do with the foot’s ability to invert and the hip’s ability to abduct.
  • Go through internal rotation has to do with the foot’s ability to abduct and the hip’s ability to internally rotate.
  • Go through external rotation has to do with the foot’s ability to adduct and the hip’s ability to externally rotate.


Use 3DMAPS To Understand More


In the coinciding Vlog, we look at how to assess and progress the hip’s ability using 3DMAPS® (3D Movement Analysis & Performance System). This takes into account how to enhance the hip’s function (mobility and stability) in a manner that takes undue pressure off the knee. The ideal part to this application is that the foot is being trained/treated properly as well to further relieve the knee’s stress. Here is why: Even though the knee moves in all three planes of motion, we can provide more motion and control at the foot and hip so that the knee does NOT go through abnormal motion to make up for what the foot and hip lack.


If the cause is never taken care of, then the pain will likely never go away. Additionally, if the cause is never taken care of the pain does go away, it is likely to resurface.


Gray Institute Can Help With Your Runner’s Knee


If you are looking to dive deeper into runner’s knee, allow Gray Institute to come alongside you in your educational journey. Take a look at 3DMAPS to further understand assessment, enhancement to performance, and Chain Reaction biomechanics. If you want to accomplish the above related to the foot, then our Foot/Ankle Specialization will provide layers of content that can be directly applied to assist the knee and the rest of the body.


If you want to know more, please fill out our simple online form. We look forward to hearing from you!