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Trigger Point Therapy - Runner's Knee Self Help

Posted by Judith Winer on

 What is Runner’s Knee? 

Runner’s Knee can refer to a number of injuries resulting from overuse, causing pain around the knee cap (patella). Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is the most common type of Runner’s Knee. It’s name comes from it’s high prevalence in runners, where the repeated stress on the knee causes irritation where the patella rests on the thigh bone.

The pain can be sudden and piercing or chronic and dull.

It can also affect other athletes whose activities require repeated bending of the knee, e.g. jumping, biking and walking.

Trigger Points

Runner’s Knee is most likely to occur when the hamstrings and quadriceps are too tight and inflexible. This leaves the patella unsupported creating pressure and causing it to move from its correct position. Trigger points in the hamstring and quadricep muscles are common and should be treated regularly, especially if you run or jog.

(Note: Runner’s Knee may also be related to tension or weakness in the hip (gluteus medius muscle).

What are the Symptoms of Runner’s Knee? 

The following symptoms may be felt in one or both knees:  

  • Pain will centre around and behind the patella
  • Pain when you bend your knee from kneeling, squatting or even getting up from a chair
  • Sometimes you may experience a cracking sensation
  • The knee seems to give way
  • It is more painful when walking down hill or downstairs

Who is Prone to Runner’s Knee? 

Women are more likely to get Runner’s Knee than men. This is due to their wider hips which causes a greater angling of the knee to the thighbone, creating increased stress on the knee cap.

Younger runners (teens) as well as those who run for recreational purposes tend to suffer most.

Hikers, cyclists and even office workers - those who sit for long periods can get Runner’s Knee. 

Around 40% of professional cyclists will develop a form of Runner’s Knee every year. 



Trigger Point Self Help - Quadriceps



Trigger Point Self Help (with tool) - Quadriceps




Trigger Point Self Help (with tool) - Hamstrings




Trigger Point Self Help (with tool) - Hamstrings


Trigger Point Therapy - Self Help

This involves locating the heart of the trigger/tender point (you'll feel it, when you're on it!). When this is compressed it may well trigger a specific referred pain map (preferably reproducing your knee pain). This technique involves applying direct, gentle and sustained pressure to the point:


1. Identify the tender/trigger point you wish to work on (as shown in the illustration above)

2. Place the host muscle in a comfortable position, where it is relaxed and can undergo full stretch. 

3. Apply gentle, gradually increasing pressure to the tender point until you feel resistance. This should be experienced as discomfort and not as pain. 

4. Apply sustained pressure until you feel the tender point yield and soften. This can take from a few seconds to several minutes. 

5. Steps 3-4 can be repeated, gradually increasing the pressure on the tender/trigger point until it has fully yielded. 

6. To achieve a better result, you can try to change the direction of pressure during these repetitions.


There are many reasons why you might have trigger points, so it is important to consider your trigger point pain in the context of the rest of your body. It must be stressed that the techniques offered on this page are not a substitute for therapy from a qualified practitioner; although aches and pains from trigger points are common, there can sometimes be an underlying pathology. It is advisable to always seek a proper diagnosis from a qualified medical practitioner or experienced manual therapist.


Stretching by itself is unlikely to dissipate trigger points but it can help along with self massage (as shown above) and is recommended in between self massage sessions. 

Stretching - Hamstrings


Stretching - Quadriceps



Strengthening is an important part of the rehabilitation process and should begin as soon as pain allows and be continued throughout the rehabilitation program and beyond - Good maintenance prevents re-injury. 


Perform a slow chair-sit exercise twice daily to build strength in your quadriceps, which will help stabilize your knees.

• Sit in a chair, keeping your back straight.

• Focus your eyes on a point directly in front of you, and slowly rise to a standing position, taking at least five seconds to do so.

• While you rise, do not round your back, but keep it straight, and do not hold onto the chair for support.

• Be sure to keep your knees pointing forward.

• Once you have reached a standing position, slowly lower yourself back to the seated position in the same way, keeping your back straight and taking your time

How often?

30 repetitions, 2-3 times daily


This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 



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