Cause of Knee Pain in Runners

The weather is getting cooler, people are becoming more active, PF Chang’s marathon is approaching and lots of people are trying to accomplish a goal of completing a marathon or half-marathon while getting in the best shape of their lives. In order to achieve this goal, many gruesome hours are put in and stress is placed on the bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments of the runner’s body.

One common injury that we see with long distance runners is IT-Band Syndrome. IT-Band syndrome has been noted as the primary cause of knee pain in runners.

The Iliotibial Band (IT-Band) is the tendon that runs from the outside of your hip down to the outside of your knee. IT-Band Syndrome is when the IT-Band gets tight or overstressed which results in increased friction along the lateral leg at the hip and/or knee joint. There may be alterations in the hip that can occur and lead to IT-Band syndrome because of improper biomechanics of the way the foot hits the ground.

Most of our clients with this problem will complain of a dull ache along their lateral hip or occasional sharp pain in the outside of the knees. In addition to knee pain, this tough, tedious sheath may alter changes in your entire body that could result in secondary injury such as back or foot pain. When the foot makes contact with the ground, every joint above it has to adjust and compensate for any challenges it undergoes, which makes it all the more crucial to be aware of the type of surface you are running on and the use of appropriate footwear. Often times, people run on the street next to the curb that usually slopes slightly downward which can place significant stress on the lower body. IT-Band Syndrome can be treated and prevented with the combination of simple stretching techniques, improving strength and core stability, as well as being educated on proper running surfaces and shoe wear.

In order to reduce the risk of IT-Band Syndrome and other injuries, runners should also try to have a run gait analysis before increasing mileage. If you are interested in a gait analysis, or if you think you may have IT-Band Syndrome, please call your nearest Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy location for a free evaluation by a licensed physical therapist.