Kissing the Pain Goodbye – How to Treat Knee Injuries Caused by Running

March 05, 2011


Monday was a beautiful day in NYC. I tied up my Asics and stepped outside for a quick run before getting my day started. Less than half a mile into the run, the pain in my knee was so uncomfortable that I had to cut my run short and return home. What is the cause of the knee pain? ITBS! ITBS not to be confused with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) stands for Illiotibial Band Syndrome, and is an overuse injury that is characterized by pain on the outside of the knee. The iliotibial band is a band of tissue that begins at the outside of the pelvis and extends to the outside part of the knee. It helps stabilize the knee, and if it becomes tight and short, the band rubs on the bone of your leg and becomes irritated. I first developed ITBS while training for the NYC marathon, and I am bit disappointed that it has stuck around for so long - even after I decreased my mileage. I am not sure how many of you guys are dealing with ITBS, so I decided to share how I am treating the injury. Keep in mind, you can use some of these tips to treat Runner’s Knee as well. But first a disclaimer…I am not a doctor. If you are having serious knee pain, please stop reading and go see a doctor. 1. Stretches –Since ITBS is caused by tightness in the IT band that runs from your hip to the outside of your knee, I do a series of hip stretches as a part of my treatment. They really help to subside the pain during runs and any soreness afterwards – check these stretches out. 2. Ice – This is my least favorite treatment, but the most effective. I usually ice for 15 minutes after my runs. This helps with any swelling or inflammation. 3. KT Tape – I blogged about KT Tape when I was training for my marathon. Basically, the tape is magic. It provides support to the knee but doesn’t restrict movement at all. One of the things about my knee pain is that I feel it even after my workouts. So, KT Tape helps because the same tape job can be worn for a few days (even in the shower). Check out my KT Tape post here.

4. Massage – As a grad student, massages are not in my budget right now. But, I do enjoy a nice massage from my foam roller. I lay on my side and place the foam roller under my hip. Moving up and down, I run the roller from my hip to my mid-thigh and back. Warning, it is a little painful, but it helps to stretch my muscles and relieve post-run soreness.

5. Take a break – I am cutting down on my miles this week to give me knee a little time off. Once I am done with the half, I will change my workout a bit to incorporate more low impact workouts like swimming and the elliptical. Anyone else have ITBS or some other form of knee pain? How are you treating the injury? What works best?

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