Running is one of my favorite ways to get my heart rate up, but let's face it - running can be hard on the knees. A very common injury for runners is the Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome (for more on the ITB see The Skinny on: The ITB) — the ITB is a band of fascia that runs down the outside of the thigh. If you are experiencing pain on the outside of your knee or knees when running, it might just be this syndrome, which occurs when the ITB is too tight and disrupts proper knee function.
Here are the main symptoms to look out for:
- Pain on the outside of knee that increases when running, especially running down hill, and the pain disappears soon after you stop running.
- Tenderness when you touch the outside of the knee, with signs of inflammation.
- As the syndrome progresses there may be a sharp stinging pain, or burning on the outside of the knee.
The best way to deal with the ITB syndrome is to prevent it before it starts. I find that releasing the ITB with a foam roller is the best and most direct approach. It can be a little uncomfortable (that is an understatement) at first, but if it is super painful you really need to roll it.
To learn how to roll out your ITB
Folks with excessive pronation are prone to ITB syndrome, so if you pronate and run look into getting a pair of orthotics (podiatrist made insoles) or supportive running shoes like Axiom 2 by Brooks designed to decrease pronation.
When I talk to folks that have been running for years, they tend to give me unsolicited advice and a lot of them tell me to take care of my knees.
So roll those ITBs out, even if you don't have knee pain since prevention is often the key to staying injury free.