About a week ago, I shared with you all that I was having a lot of knee pain after a run I completed early last week. Is it just me or does everyone else go to the very worst possible scenario when it comes to injuries? I was figuring I would be out for, oh, I don’t know – probably like three years. I also couldn’t even fathom running again after all the pain I was in last week.
After I went to the chiropractor and had him adjust me, I wanted to wait a few days to see if the pain got any better. If it didn’t, my plan was to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor in the practice I go. In the meantime, I started researching probable causes of knee pain in runners. What I came up with was runner’s knee or an IT band flare up.
What is your IT band exactly?
It is your iliotibial band which is a large band of tissue that runs from your hip down to your knee (source). The IT band is very important for stabilizing your knee while you walk and run. However over time, constant rubbing of the band can cause it to become inflamed.
What causes an IT band flare up?
- increase in training too quickly
- mechanical issues, such as improper form or high arches
- not stretching before/after running
How can it be treated?
- RICE – Rest Ice Compression and Elevation
- Foam Rolling
- Deep tissue athletic massage
I wasn’t completely sure if my problem was my IT band, but it made sense to me since I never did anything to hurt my knee exactly – I never twisted it or stepped on it funny. It just hurt!
After a few days, the pain in my knee was a lot better, but it still felt really sore and not completely normal. After doing some reading, I figured I better try out foam rolling. Let me tell you – I wasn’t sure if my IT band was really the problem until I started to foam roll to loosen the tissue up. For someone who has never in her life foam rolled before, it. was. painful.
Problems with your IT band can cause pain all the way in your hip and down through the knee. In fact, it is the most common reason for knee pain in runners. With foam rolling or deep tissue massage, it can naturally loosen up the IT band.
By Friday of last week, my knee was feeling a lot better, but I knew it could be fairly superficial. However, I did meet one of my friends at the high school in the district I teach in to do some cross training to see if I could handle it. My knee felt a little “off”, but it wasn’t painful in the least. Before I left, I stopped to talk to the athletic trainer for the high school to see if she could give me some advice. She told me exactly what I had been doing already – rest, ice, and foam roll.
When you’re someone who easily runs 20 miles a week, after one week of not running, one can get a little stir crazy. So this Monday I decided to see if I could run an easy three miles without any pain. Total success! I still had a little tightness in my knee, but I took care of that with a little foam rolling after my run. I want to do my long run this week, but will obviously take it easy and stop running if I am experiencing any pain during the run.
I took this as quite the lesson learned – I know in the past, I would have been tempted to continue to run even if my leg was hurting just because I feel so weird when I am not active. However, I knew that taking it easy would only benefit me as I only had to sit it out for a week instead of months because I rested and listened to my body.
Question: Have you ever had any trouble with your IT band if you are a runner?