Running will ruin your knees is probably the thing most runners hear most often. When you press someone who makes such a statement (like my mom), they have nothing to back up that statement with. It’s one of those urban myths that all non-runners know to be true and all runners know to be untrue.
Enter ITBand Syndrome
Running hasn’t ruined my knees, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced knee pain. Once I decided to run half marathons, I have dealt with IT Band Syndrome . . . again & again.
Like right now.I have learned a lot and can go months running pain free only to have it pop up with no warning. Like now.
What is IT Band Syndrome (ITBS)?
For a good description, see this page. For me, it starts when the outside of my knee begins to tighten up. That’s basically where I’m at right now. Ignore that, and I’ll end up in pain. Run a half marathon without addressing the issue, and I won’t be able to even walk pain free afterwards.
If you feel pain in your knee cap, that’s more likely runner’s knee which is a different issue.
So what caused my IT to flare up this time?
Good question. There are many possibilities:
- Running too fast
- Too many hill repeats?
- Cumulative training this year?
- Lifting weights that were too heavy?
I don’t know. All I know that my knee has been perfectly fine for months, including 2 hilly halfs in May, and then a couple of weeks ago, after an easy run, I felt it tightening. It seemed fine the next day and I probably should have skipped those hill repeats but I didn’t.
I’ve been swimming because it’s good cross training and I love it. I was doing a mix of breast & crawl until my shoulder started to bother me. Then I switched to all breast stroke. My shoulder is better, but I noticed last week after I swam my knee was very achy. Really? I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do and it’s actually making things worse? And swimming has never bothered me before.
I do know that I’ve been very careful about not increasing my mileage too much and am running almost half the mileage I was running last summer.
And I want to make sure you realize that I am not in pain — right now, it’s just an on again, off again achy IT Band (my chiropractor agrees with that diagnosis). I’m working hard to not be in pain.
So what can you do about it?
Of course the first advice is always to stop running. Yeah, right. That’s not so easy as you get into the heaviest part of your half marathon training.
The next advice is RICE: Rest (yes, I have taken some days off running); Ice (yes, several times a day); Compression – yes, using tape; and Elevate (yes, again a few times a day). It’s helping, but my knee is not normal yet.
In fact, I decided not to do the 10k I had planned (but not yet registered for) next week, and that makes me sad. There are so few 10ks. We could bring the dogs. There’s free food & it’s a beautiful area. I would’ve met some of the runners from one of the groups I’m in. But it’s a very hilly 10k and it’s not in my best interest right now.
I am also the poster child for doing dynamic stretching before a run and preventative exercises after a run and foam rolling. I like the routines at Strength Running and am pretty religious about doing them. Of course I do slack every once in a while; I’m human.
I switch it up, too, and sometimes do these drills from Another Mother Runner (I did one of their challenges this year).
And yes, I do strength training. They say IT problems are often caused by weak glutes & hips, so yes, I work on these areas a lot.
My 2 Secret Weapons
Taping my knee allows me to run pain free. I was using KT Tape Pro, but recently tried RockTape, and as I’ve heard, it adheres better. I seriously doubt I would still be running half marathons if I hadn’t started to tape my knee last year.
I don’t always have to tape it, but it’s nice to know it’s there if I need it.
I also do segments of Yamuna Save Your Knees when I’m having a flare up (not an affiliate link & I also did not spend $100 on it, but it was pricey). The full routine is quite long, but it’s also broken down into segments that take only 5-15 minutes & I’ve found it to be really helpful.
Remember, I am not a health care professional. If you are having a problem, seek help from a professional. I am just hoping to share some general information and a few useful tools in my IT toolbox.
Today I’m joining Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, April @ Run the great wide somewhere and Patty @ My no-guilt life! for Tuesdays on the Run — no scheduled topic, so I thought I would share what I’m battling with right now, hoping to help other runners either prevent or deal with the same issue.
Have you battled IT Band issues? What worked for you? What is your issue?