Runner’s Knee Interview with Dr. Cameron Dennis, PT, DPT

Oh, the dreaded term Runner’s Knee!

It may be a safe bet that every runner has been told by a well-meaning well-wisher that “Running is going to mess up your knees…” or something to that effect. In this interview Dr. Cameron Dennis explains to us why that is simply not true. Yes, some runners experience knee issues at certain points, but it isn’t necessarily just because they run, but rather how they run: how often, how fast, how far, etc…

Runner’s knee help from a running doctor

Cameron is not just a Physical Therapist who specializes in runners’ injuries, but is also a runner himself so he understands his patients’ perspective on running and how important it is to them. He graduated from the University of Toledo with a doctorate in Physical Therapy and started his own PT practice called Back On Track Therapy and Wellness, located in Wapakoneta, OH.

Runner's Knee with Dr. Cameron Dennis

Runner’s Knee Support Group

Dr. Dennis is the founder of the Running Injury Support Group facebook page. He believes the best way to prevent running injuries is with smart training habits and by listening to your body. In this episode he also discusses:

  • Full recovery days vs. active recovery days
  • What role nutrition plays in knee health specifically
  • The importance of running by effort using the RPE scale during training
  • What is, and what are the different causes and treatments of common knee issues like Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome and torn meniscus
  • How strength training can prevent knee injuries

This conversation is packed full of great information and tips that we can all apply to our training. Enjoy!

Questions Cameron is asked:

2:52 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite race distance or type of race?

4:51 What got you interested in Physical Therapy and focusing on runners?

6:38 What kind of education is involved in becoming a PT?

9:39 When did you do your internship?

10:11 What is the ACL?

11:35 Listener question: Is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome the same as Runner’s Knee and, if so, what exactly is it?

14:44 What does “Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome” actually mean?

17:01 Is ‘Syndrome” a pretty general term for symptoms?

17:17 How many runners have knee issues?

18:38 What is the correlation between nutrition and knee pain and knee injuries?

20:13 What about processed sugar?

22:40 How and when can we treat knees on our own, and when should we seek out help from a medical professional?

26:32 When people are running more than 4 days and running hard, how long should runs be?

29:29 Listener question: How can you tell if you have a torn meniscus in your knee?

31:19 Does the meniscus change as we age? And what could indicate or cause a torn meniscus?

33:43 What would a torn meniscus feel like?

34:26 Can a tear be diagnosed with x-rays or an MRI?

35:10 Would a PT be able to suspect a torn meniscus and be able to suggest remedies for non-invasive treatment?

38:56 What exercises can we do to keep our knees healthy and how can we recover from knee injuries?

40:53 Will a PT do a full assessment on an initial visit?

43:53 How much weight would you use for Farmer’s Carries

45:06 How would plyometrics fit into a strength program?

46:54 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite running book(s)?
  3. Words of Wisdom or Humor?
  4. Any questions for Stephanie?
  5. Who would you like to hear on the Run To The Top podcast?

Quotes by Cameron:

“As much as runners hate to do it, taking a step back is crucial in recovery. I never tell someone, ‘You can’t run.’, but sometimes it’s ‘Maybe we should do some cross training this week.’ or ‘We can try do some walking.’ and how they tolerate that determines what step we take next.”

“Running greater than four days per week at a HIGH intensity puts you at a greater risk for knee pain.”

“I think excessive sugar is detrimental to your health. I think the argument comes in with How much sugar? It’s not whether or not you need sugar, because that’s a scientific fact that you need sugar to survive, it’s just where is it coming from and how much, exactly.”

“Runners, statistically speaking, are less likely to have knee pain than non-runners. That’s because of the way we’re using those joints and muscles, it actually is a healthy stimulus to the bones rather than being a negative stimulus. And that’s given that we’re allowing ourselves enough rest, we’re performing appropriate nutrition, but in general, running is actually HEALTHY for your joints.”

“To say that we’re 100% confident in what causes Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome would be false. And the same goes with IT Band Syndrome.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run

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Mentioned in this podcast:

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page

Dr. Cameron’s Practice – Back On Track Therapy and Wellness Homepage

Running Injury Support Group Facebook page

Hex Bars

Farmer’s Carry demonstration video

Book: Finding Ultra, Revised and Updated Edition by Rich Roll

Follow Dr. Cameron Dennis on:

Email Dr. Cameron



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