This article is from the Running FAQ, by Ozzie Gontang with numerous contributions by others.
( Elizabeth Doucette <email@example.com>)
When running (also walking, and cycling), the inner most quad. muscle
(inner part of thigh) does not get exercised as much as the other three
quad. muscles of the thigh. If this inner muscle isn't strengthened by
specific exercises, an imbalance of the muscles may occur. This can cause
irritation of the underside of the kneecap (chondromalacia patellae)
because the imbalance of the muscles can pull the kneecap towards the
outside of the leg.
The kneecap (which has two convex faces on the back) rides in a broad
indentation on the femur. Weak inner quadriceps (M. Vastus medialis) can
pull the kneecap slightly out of its "track"; and it is theorized that this
is what causes chondromalacia (which I believe is called patellofemoral
pain syndrome these days). [edited for correctness 2/19/95 by
lmm5@postoffice. mail.cornell.edu (Lucie Melahn)]
I had chondromalacia patellae for a long time (and many of my running
friends did too) but I haven't had problems since I've been doing specific
exercises for my inner quad. muscle. It is tedious and boring but it works.
I haven't had knee problems for about 3 years now :-). I should do this
every day, whether I work out or not, but I don't always. If I feel any
discomfort at all in my knees, I make sure I'm more diligent with this
exercise and the discomfort always disappears. I'm always able to prevent a
The exercise is just a leg raise with the foot flexed and pointing away
from the body. With this exercise make sure that your back is supported. As
your quad. muscles fatigue, there is a tendency to help out with your back
muscles. You may not realize that you're doing this until you notice later
that your back is a little sore.
Sitting on the floor, bend one leg (like you're going to do a sit-up),
bringing the knee towards the chest. The other leg is straight. Place your
hands behind you on the floor to support your back. You can vary this by
leaning against a wall and hugging your knee to your chest with both arms.
YOUR CANNOT BE TOO CAREFUL WITH YOUR BACK.
For ease of explanation, start with your right leg being straight and flex
your foot (bring your toes towards your head, as opposed to pointing them
away from you). Turn your leg to the right, so that your toes and knee are
pointing to the right as far as possible. The position of the foot is
important because it helps to isolate the inner quad. muscle. Now, do leg
raises. When I started I could only do 10 or 20 before I needed to rest.
Don't do the leg raises too quickly because technique is more important
than speed. I now do three sets, each leg of 60 repetitions (alternating
legs after each set) for a total of 180 per leg. It takes me about 10
You can tell if your muscle is getting fatigued because it will start to
quiver. Don't push it, change legs. Keep note of how many repetitions you
do before you get fatigued and try to increase the repetitions next time.
Compare you to you, not to others.
Leg presses used to bother my knees. Now that I'm doing leg raises, the leg
press doesn't bother me any more. Technique is important when doing leg
presses. (Technique is probably more important than the fact that I'm doing
leg raises). Make sure that the seat is forward far enough, so that when
you press you cannot lock your knee. This makes the initial position feel
too cramped. My knees feel too close to my chest. But it works for me and
for others (both men and women) that I work out with. Nautilus equipment
uses a cam system, such that there is less resistance on your knees in the
initial, starting position, so there is less chance of injury.