Running and Knee Pain

I am heading out for a run at lunch today! I can't tell you how excited I am. It's been a while since I went for a run, like probably well over 6 weeks. And I really Really miss it. I miss those endorphins coursing through my body as I pound the payment. It's been a long and frustrating road getting into an orthopedist office due to a not so great Family doctor and the insurance. But finally I made it into one yesterday morning.

And after running through all the horrible scenarios that a runner with first time knee injuries can think up, like perhaps the doctor is going to tell me I can never run again, or I will need cortisone shots for the rest of my life, no please, I am still so young! I have so much more miles to put on these puppies and so many more running shoes to buy! Please, No!

Thankfully, that wasn't quite the case.

The pain I was feeling is called "lateral knee pain" and some even call it "Runner's Knee". It can present itself in many different ways. For me, it is a sharp pain mostly on the outside of the knee going in. It's infrequent and generally goes away after a few minutes of warming up during exercise and will continue throughout the day. But the pain you feel when it acts up is debilitating and you just want to drop to the ground in agony. I stopped running, thinking it would heal itself with rest. But nearly 2 years later it's still hurting.

Seems like the problem is my IT Bands and Hamstrings. More specifically their lack of strength. For those that don't know, "the iliotibial band is a superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running, moving from behind the femur to the front while walking." (wikipedia)

So I need to work on stretching the IT bands and getting those hamstrings nice and strong. So, for me it looks like foam rolling every day, stretches 2 -3 times daily, icing, of course, a bit of targeted strength training, and yes, deep tissue massage, though they are hardly enjoyable.

Great news is that with some work and no more running consecutive days anymore, I should run a long and healthy life with these knees pain-free.

Most of the runners and athlete I know have some sort of issue with their IT bands being too tight. So, here are a few things to help those suckers loosen up. This is a great article from Runner's World with stretches and strength moves. And this is a good video to get you started on foam rolling for IT bands.

Have you even had injuries from your love of running? What have you found works? And now, off for my lunch run! Eeekkkk!