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Runner’s knee: Becoming pain-free


If you have ever been out for a run and notice that the outside of your knee is starting to hurt, you may be experiencing the onset of iliotibial (IT) band syndrome 

This condition is more commonly known as runner’s knee, and it’s estimated that up to 25% of all active individuals develop it at some point. Physical therapists can help you learn more about IT band syndrome. They can also help you find effective treatment options for your runner’s knee. 

What causes runner’s knee?

The IT band is a long connective tissue that goes from your hip and runs along the outside part of your thigh, down to your knee. The IT band, near where it attaches at the knee, can become inflamed due to the constant rubbing of the tissue over the bony prominence when the knee flexes and extends, causing an increase in pain during and after your run. IT band syndrome is primarily known as a running injury, but it’s also prevalent in cyclists.

Runner’s knee can result from any activity that causes the leg to turn inward repeatedly, placing tension stress on the bottom end of the IT band. Some of these activities can include:

  • Wearing worn-out shoes
  • Running downhill or on banked surfaces
  • Running too many miles.

How do I treat and prevent runner’s knee?

There are many recommendations that a physical therapist can make to help treat and prevent runner’s knee. If you feel pain on the outside of your knee, decrease the distance or amount of time you run or take a few days off to let the tissue recover. You can also make sure that you’re properly warmed up before starting a run.

Other suggestions include avoiding running on the sides of roads. This can cause excess stress on the IT band due to the slight slope of the road. Additionally, make sure that your shoes aren’t worn out. If the treads are gone, replace your shoes. You can also place an ice pack on the outside of your knee after a run to help decrease the pain or discomfort.

There are some stretches that can help treat and prevent IT band syndrome, too. Some stretches that can help include: 

  1. Gluteus maximus stretch
  • Start by lying on your back. 
  • Gently pull one knee up toward your chest.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, and repeat two or three times.
  1. Tensor fascia latae stretch
  • Start by sitting on the floor with one leg out straight. 
  • Cross the other leg over the straight leg, and place your foot flat on the floor. 
  • Use your hands to pull your bent knee across your body. 
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds; then repeat these steps two or three times.
  1. IT band stretch
  • Place the leg you want to stretch behind the other one. 
  • Keep the foot on the floor and push your hips out to the other side until a stretch is felt in the outer hip. You may also feel a stretch down the outside of the thigh. 
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds; then repeat two to three more times.

Back in Motion Physical Therapy offers treatment for runner’s knee

Tired of dealing with runner’s knee symptoms? Our therapy specialists at Back in Motion Physical Therapy can help you find effective ways to treat them. We offer free screenings that can confirm that you have IT band syndrome and not another knee issue. Our team can then build you a personalized physical therapy plan designed to reduce your symptoms and prevent them from recurring. 

Not able to come into one of our clinics? No problem! We offer high-quality therapy services that allow you to get help right from your own home, including at-home therapy and virtual care sessions. You can even start therapy with us without a doctor’s referral. 

Contact us today for more information about how we can help you or to schedule your initial appointment. 



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