ITB and Runner’s Knee

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PHOTO CREDIT: Diana Swanevelder

“ITB” and “Runner’s knee” can make any runner shake in their shoes. But if you know where it comes from, you can easily sidestep these injuries.

Runner’s knee became the nickname for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) because of its common occurance amongst runners. It is caused when the quadricep muscles are too weak to keep the patella (kneecap) tracking in the grooves of the femur (thigh bone). This malalignment causes friction and can be experienced as a sudden sharp or chronic dull pain. Tight calves and hamstrings, weak buttocks and flat feet also contribute to this painful condition. Pain is often felt at the centre or just below the kneecap.

Iliotibialband Syndrome (ITBS), on the other hand, causes pain on the lateral (outside) of the knee. The ITB is a tight band that runs from the pelvis to the outside of the knee. During running repetitive bending of the knee causes irritation of the ITB over the lateral femoral condyle. Runners often complain of experiencing pain after a certain distance and running downhill. Causes of this include excessive hill training, insufficient stretching and sudden increase in mileage. Weak hip stabilisers, excessively high or low foot arches can also contribute to ITB pain.

Stop running at the first sign of painful symptoms. Decrease the workload on the knee, avoid knee-bending activities and try to crosstrain.

Prevent these conditions by doing knee and hip strengthening a few times per week:

NOTE: If you have not done the previous article’s exercises, you should not attempt these before doing so. Check out the previous article.