Running into problems.

Hmmmm. Lately while I’ve been running, after a few kilometers a persistent pain shows up in my right knee on the outer side of my leg. If I stop running, the pain immediately goes away. If I keep running, it’s becomes worse, so bad I have to stop. It’s a real letdown.

I’ve been meaning to go to a doctor, but a search on Cool Running brought me to this description, which fairly well describes what I have :

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Pain on the outside of your knee (not usually accompanied by swelling or locking). The pain may be sporadic and disappear with rest, only to reoccur suddenly, often at the same point in a run. Depending on the individual, this could happen at four miles, two miles or just 200 yards. The pain often goes away almost immediately after you stop running.

Likely causes:
This is an overuse injury. 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. The band helps stabilize the knee. If it becomes too short, the band rubs too tightly on the bone of your leg and becomes irritated. The tightness is usually the result of too much strain from overtraining.

Patience. This one takes a while. Give yourself plenty of rest, reduce your miles and ice frequently. You can keep running, but cut your run short as soon as you begin to feel any pain. Cut way back on hill work, and be sure to run on even surfaces. Look into some deep friction massage with a physical therapist.

Try some leg-raise exercises to strengthen your hips and be conscientious about the iliotibial band stretch. You might supplement that stretch with this one, doing it gently but often:

To stretch the IT band of your right leg, stand with your left side facing the wall. Cross your right leg behind your left, while putting your left hand against the wall. Put your weight on the right leg and lean against the wall by pushing your right hip away from the wall. Be sure that your right foot is parallel to the wall during the stretch. You should be able to feel the stretch in your hip and down the IT band (in this case, along the right side of your right leg). Hold for five seconds and do this ten times. For the left leg, do as above, but stand with your right side facing the wall, and put your left leg behind your right.

Overuse ? Heck, I didn’t even know I was overusing it, my other knee is just fine. This knee is more sensitive, I guess…

The exercices they recommend for this are not exercises for the knee, but for the hips :

Hips and Groin
(To treat and prevent iliotibial band syndrome)
Side Leg Raises
Lie on your side, with your upper leg straight and aligned with your body. Bend your lower leg at the knee. Your lower arm should be under your head and outstretched, aligned with your body. Place the palm of your top hand down in front of your chest for support. Slowly lift the upper leg, leading with the heel, until you’ve reached as high as you can, then slowly lower it to the starting position. Keep your leg aligned with your body, knee facing forward. Don’t let your leg move in front of your body. Do two or three sets of 10 or 20 repeats for each leg.

Inside Leg Raises
Lie on your side, with your bottom leg straight and aligned with your body. Bend your top leg and place your foot on the ground in front of your lower leg. Your bottom arm should be under your head and outstretched, aligned with your body. Slowly raise your bottom leg, leading with the heel, as far as you can and then slowly lower it to starting position. Do two or three sets of 10 or 20 repeats for each leg.

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