Determine the Underlying Problem
Runner's knee refers to pain around the patella (kneecap). It may be due to an underlying structural problem. Many people who experience this discomfort suffer from structural defects, such as a misaligned patella, flat feet, weak quadriceps muscles (the muscles in front of your thigh), tight hamstrings (the muscles in the back of your thigh) or some prior injury. If you have flat feet, you can use orthotic devices to improve your arch and decrease the impact on your foot as it lands on a surface. A foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon or podiatrist can determine which orthotic device is appropriate. If your patella has a history of dislocating, you might require surgical intervention to improve the alignment of the patella so that it tracks properly.
Use the R.I.C.E. Protocol
When you experience excessive knee pain, follow the R.I.C.E. protocol:
Rest your knee from training. Put as little weight on the knee as possible. If you continue to engage in the activity that caused your knee pain, it will get worse.
Ice the knee in 20-minute intervals and alternate with 20 minutes of rest. Ice constricts your blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the area.
Compress. Use an Ace bandage or a neoprene sleeve to compress the knee. Studies have shown that the use of a compression device helps with swelling and propioception (the ability to sense joint position in space).
Elevate the knee so that it rests above the level of your heart. This will reduce any swelling that has developed in the knee as blood drawn out of the area.
Build Knee Strength
Build the muscles surrounding the knee joint to decrease the pain in the area. Training your quadriceps muscles is the most important component of a knee strengthening regimen. You should perform isometric quadriceps contractions by contracting the quadriceps muscles and holding for approximately 15 seconds. Perform this simple exercise throughout the course of the day. Perform a "chair rise" by sitting in a chair with good posture. Take 5 seconds to rise from the seated position keeping your eyes focused directly in front of you. Maintain an erect spine,and don't hold the chair handles for support. Keep your knees pointing forward. As soon as you have reached the standing position, take 5 seconds to sit without touching the chair handles and keeping your body as pointed and erect as when you sat.