Knee pain - IT Band (Runners Knee) - Paul Gough Physio Rooms

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Knee pain – IT Band (Runners Knee)

After last weeks true story about my biking accident, got a flood of emails about biking injuries. Including this one:

“Paul. Thanks for the tip off last week. I’m just getting going again on my bike too. Not noticed anything going with wrong with it per-se, my concern is the problem that I seem to have developed on the outside of my knee.

I’ve “Googled” it, as you do, and the closest thing I can match it to is something called runners knee. But I’m not a runner. And it’s left me confused.

Would appreciate you shedding some light on it for me.

Ever so grateful of a response”.

Person asked to remain anonymous.
56, Sedgefield.

Let me say right of the bat: this a hugely common problem.

And doesn’t matter if you’re a runner or a cyclist, you could suffer from it.

To be honest, it’s the kind of injury that will appear loads in my physio room from now, until about September, as more and more people look to get outside, either on bikes, in running trainers, or even continue on the hard recreational surfaces with football.

What you’ve likely found on Google is called “runner knee”. More scientifically, it’s a problem with the IT band. The thick band that runs down the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee.

Runners suffer usually because of a stiff, achy bad back or because they’ve just done too much too soon, or more is likely, their trainers just don’t provide the support that they did 3 months ago. Any of these can cause the band to tighten and then rub over the outside of the knee.

And it’s frustrating. Because often when you stop, so does the pain. You deiced to give it another go, the pain comes back. And so the merry go round of rest and re-injury begins.

And as for cyclists, it nearly always happens because of the amount of time they spend seated – in the saddle. This adds pressure to your back, tightens muscles and because of this position, the IT band begins to shorten as you hip and knee remain bent.

And when it shortens – it’s like pulling an elastic band. Eventually it will ‘fray’ and this happens to the IT band. Only it rubs over the bone on the outside of your knee and it can be very painful. Often feels hot and irritable to. It’s the reason ice really helps. I’ve heard some patients tell me that they feel like they want to scratch it or itch it over and over.

Pilates exercises will help to strengthen your spine, increase the amount of stretching that you do and check your trainers. If you suffer this regularly, a set of prescription orthotics will help you, too.

So a pain on the outside of your knee – more often than not it’s an over use injury. I guarantee if you’re involved in a group of cyclists or runners – somebody in that group is going to suffer with it. Look out of the symptoms. And if you spot them, send them here for more advice

Paul Gough
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