I was given a medical discharge from the US Army in 2000 due to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS, or runner’s knee). Before being discharge I went through about a year of on and off physical therapy to almost no effect. They tried stretching, heat/ice, ultrasound massage, and I had to go to the Bureau of Silly Walks. The last was a doctor who was convinced that all of us grunts who were running 4 days a week and road marching the 5th were being injured because we didn’t walk properly.
I continued to have pain when walking or running, particularly up stairs for years. I gave up on even trying to run for about 8 years. Then, I just couldn’t take it any more, I needed to get back out on the road, so I just started running. It didn’t take long for my knees to start hurting again. I took it slow and stopped running anytime they hurt. Then I ran across an article that mentioned that the Gluteus Medius and other abductor muscles were most often the cause of this problem. I found the Exercise and Muscle Directory web site to be very helpful in finding exercises that specifically targeted these muscles.
Doing a combination of side leg lifts, squats, and other exercises I have been able to run nearly without knee pain. I have found that as I push my distance I will sometimes run into the limit of my abductor muscles strength/endurance and my pain will come back. But, it is a great relief to have a method for overcoming this really painful condition, one that does not include never running again.