Run Away From Runners Knee

Originally posted by LifeCare Kingsway Physiotherapy

Summer is well and truly here and you found some motivation to get into shape and start running. If you keep it up, you might even sign up for a running event later in the year. But then your knee has started to hurt and you're considering why you even contemplated this "running" lark. 

Pain on the outside of your knee is very common in runners. So common in fact that it has been named several times over; "Ilio-Tibial Band Syndrome", "ITBS", "Runners Knee", "Friction Syndrome" and the list goes on like that hill you can't quite conquer. For the purpose of this blog, we will refer to the subject as "ITBS". 

So what is ITBS?

ITBS is an overuse injury which leads to pain on the outside of your knee. The ITB (ilio-tibial band) is a thick tendon that runs from the outside of your pelvis, down the side of your thigh and attaches onto the top part of your shin. As the band crosses the outside of your knee, it runs over a bursa. This bursa is simply described as a fluid filled sac designed to reduce friction between the band and the underlying bone. In ITBS, this bursa becomes irritated and inflamed which leads to pain as the knee repeatedly moves from flexion to extension (as it does during every stride you take).


Common Causes?

  • Training load/error
  • Muscle tightness 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Often the cause is multi-factorial

Diagnosis is generally fairly simple to make. A familiar tale of pain which comes on during running and is exacerbated with every time your heel strikes the ground. Tenderness is readily brought on by direct pressure on the outside of your knee. Imaging such as X-rays or MRI scans are rarely required. 

How to get rid of this pesky ITBS?

The key to successful treatment is identifying the underlying cause/s. A thorough assessment from a physiotherapist will be able to determine the cause in your individual case. Common treatments include:

  • Training advice; we endeavour to keep runners running. COMPLETE REST is RARELY ADVISED. 
  • Addressing muscle tightness; massage, dry needling, foam rolling 
  • Rectifying muscle weakness with progressive strengthening exercises 

ITBS is a debilitating overuse injury for runners. With a thorough assessment and effective treatment it can be swiftly overcome. If you are struggling with ITBS, then call your local LifeCare practice or click below to book online with one of our physiotherapists today and we will strive to get you running away from your runners knee!