So, a very common issue I see in runners is iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome. In a nutshell, it involves excessive rubbing or friction of the ITB along the greater trochanter or lateral femoral epicondyle. It is more common along the lower leg just above the knee and typically worsens with increasing mileage or stairs.
The ITB is essential for stabilizing the knee during running. Several factors may contribute to increased risk for this problem:
Related information on this topic include a 2010 study published in JOSPT on competitive female runners with ITB syndrome:
Common signs and symptoms include stinging or nagging lateral knee pain that worsens with continued running. Hills and stairs may further aggravate symptoms. Some runners even note a “locking up” sensation that forces them to stop running altogether. How do I treat this?
Unearthing the cause of anterior knee pain and ridding our patients and clients of it is one of the never ending searches for the “Holy Grail” we participate in throughout training and rehab circles. I honestly believe we will never find one right answer or simple solution. However, I do think we continue to gain a better understanding of just how linked and complex the body really is when it comes to the manifestation of knee pain and movement compensations.
We used to say rehab and train the knee if the knee hurts. It was simply strengthen the VMO and stretch the hamstrings, calves and IT Band. Slowly, we began looking to the hip as well as the foot and ankle as culprits in the onset of anterior knee pain. The idea of the ankle and hip joint needing more mobility to give the knee its desired level of stability has risen up and seems to have good traction these days.
Likewise, therapists and trainers have known for some time that weak hip abductors play into increased femoral internal rotation and adduction thereby exposing the knee to harmful valgus loading. So, clam shells, band exercises and leg raises have been implemented to programs across the board.
As a former athlete who has tried his hand at running over the past 5 years, I have increasingly studied, practiced and analyzed the use and importance of single leg training and its impact on my performance and injuries. As I dive deeper into this paradigm, I continue to believe and see the benefits of this training methodology for all of my athletes (not just runners).
As a therapist and strength coach, it is my job to assess movement, define asymmetries and correct faulty neuromuscular movement patterns. To that end, I have developed my own assessments, taken the FMS course, and increasingly observed single leg strength, mobility, stability and power in the clients I serve. Invariably, I always find imbalances - some small and some large ones.
What are some of the most common issues I see?