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Runner’s knee; Iliotibial band syndrome

What it is:

Runner’s knee is a condition which leads to inflammation and pain on the outside of the knee, where the iliotibial band (a ligament on the outside of the knee) rubs against the femur.

Symptoms:

A soft pain that starts after you have been running 2-3 km, maintains while running, however disappears after stopping. In serious cases the pain can be sharp and the outside of the knee can be sore and swollen.

Caused by:

Anything that causes the knee to bend inwards, leading to stretching of the iliotibial band. The condition is often connected to being bow-legged, overpronation, worn out shoes, uphill running or running on tracks leaning towards one side. A tight iliotibial band in itself may contribute to runner’s knee, but so can also a too quick progression of training. A stiffness in the lumbar/lower back or in the pelvis may also contribute to tighten the iliotibial band.

Treatment and recovery:

  • Ease the running by lowering the speed and do not run downhill.
  • Stretch the muscles on the inside of the thigh, hamstrings and the glutes.
  • Massage and stretch by laying on the side and use a foam roller or similar.

Prevention:

  • Contact a professional to get the stance and foot movement checked . If you are overpronating you will need an adapted sole to correct the biomechanics to avoid that the iliotibial band is stressed and pressed.
  • Make sure that the iliotibial band is stretched after each training session.
  • Perform exercises to strengthen and stabilise the knees.
  • Perform proper warming up in the beginning of the training session.
  • Avoid hard running sessions on tracks leaning towards one side, downhill and indoor tracks with sideways sloping curves.

The following knee stabilising exercises, and also the foam roll exercise, are recommended, see videos below:

See more about running injuries, preventive exercises and videos here:

–  Running injuries

–  8 preventive exercises

– Video gallery, preventive strengthening exercises

Author: Hege Erichsen

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