Do you know how many people suffer from knee pain while running or exercising? Studies show this number may be over 40%! So what can you do to prevent this injury from disrupting your run?
We’ve taken a closer look into the cause of knee pain, which effects many female athletes, and discovered the best way to treat and prevent this painful injury.
Runner’s knee pain, aka Chondromalacia, is most often a result of cartilidge wearing down from underneath the kneecap. Exercises that involve repeated bending and flexing of the kneecap can stretch the tendons and serve as a major contributor to your discomfort.
You may feel this pain on the sides of your knee or directly behind the kneecap. This irritation within the knee may also result in visible inflamation of the area surrounding your knee.
Is the Outside of Your Knee Hurting?
Iliotibial band syndrome, or IT Band syndrome, is one of the primary reasons many women get pain in their outer knee area. The IT band is tissue that originates near the pelvis and extends down over the hip, and connects near the knee and tibia. I’ve personally experienced this pain, and it’s absolutely no joke.
During a workout, with each running stride you take your IT band shifts from behind your femur bone to the front of your leg. As a result, your IT band plays an important role in stabilizing and protecting your knee from overextension or injury.
While running, this repetitive motion can cause the IT band to become inflamed, especially if you are forced into improper running technique that overextends the IT band.
What is Causing My IT Band Pain?
IT band syndrome in runners is often the result of running on uneven, or arched surfaces, such as the
shoulder of the road, where one leg is caused to bend somewhat inward. Inflammation of the IT band
can also occur as a result of running hills for extended periods of time, or running up and down stairs.
Though both of these exercises are great techniques for improving your running speed, they are not
intended to be done excessively. As with most sports, you need to have a balance and variety of cross training exercises
built into your running program.
Symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful, including a stinging sensation above or outside of the knee cap. You may also experience swelling in the area over the femur bone.
During a run, IT band syndrome can often come in the form of a sharp pain felt on the outside of theknee cap.
How Can I Treat My Knee Pain?
Note:The severity of your runner’s knee pain will differ between individuals. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with your doctor or physical therapist if you experience severe, reoccurring pain.
Thankfully there are numerous treatments available that may significantly reduce your runner’s knee. First and foremost, it is important to listen to your body and take measures to reduce the pain.
An easy way to remember the acronym RICE – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This method of treatment is effective with most minor injuries in relieving pain and reducing inflammation.
If you visit your care taker, they may suggest anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs) can be helpful in reducing the initial swelling. Try keeping the knee elevated and alternate icings in ten minute intervals.
Doctor’s may also prescribe supportive bands, as well as running stretches to strengthen the knee area. It is always best to stretch post-run, when your muscles are warm, and incorporating a few hamstring and quad stretches into your routine can help prevent IT band inflammation.
Should I Change My Workout Routine?
It is important to choose a relatively even surface for longer runs. Avoid indoor tracks, the shoulder of the road, or similar surfaces. Also, avoid running downhill for extended periods as this puts more stress on your IT band.
The most important factor in treating your knee pain is to listen to your body. When experiencing runner’s knee, it is best to reduce the length and intensity of your runs. If you feel the pain coming back during a run, slow to a walk and take it easy for the rest of the day.
Lastly, it is always so important to use a running program that is right for you. Many injuries occur when runners push their running distance out too far, or try to increase their speed before your body is really ready.
We recommend that you stick to a program where you increase your distance no more than 10% from week to week, at the absolute maximum. Doing this will minimize your outer knee pain and lead to happier running.
What Alternative Exercises Will Help Me?
To avoid the pain from returning, a good idea is to strengthen the legs and knees with alternative exercises.
Many runners have enjoyed reduced pain after engaging in activities such as swimming, yoga, or pilates. Some of our favorite cross training exercises are great ways to enjoy a refreshing workout without the pounding impact of jogging.
Hopefully combining some of these techniques will do wonders in treating your runner’s knee pain and prevent it from reoccurring.
Are you suffering from a different type pain while exercising? If so, take a peak at the following articles…