Runner’s Knee- What You Need To Know Before You Hit The Road

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In preparation for National Running day June 2nd, this week’s blog will focus on one of the most common issues associated with running, IT Band Syndrome. In fact, this condition is so commonly associated with running that it is often referred to as Runner’s Knee.

Runner’s Knee refers to irritation and inflammation at the attachment of the iliotibial band (IT band) near the knee. This band of tissue runs on the outside of the thigh and can become inflamed from overuse.
The IT Band

Pain toward the outside of the kneecap Pain at the knee when walking, running, or bending the knee More pain when going down stairs or walking downhill

WHAT ARE RISK FACTORS FOR RUNNER’S KNEE?Runner’s Knee is the most common lateral knee injury among runners. In fact, it is estimated that the incidence is between 1.5% and 12% in runners and up to 15% in cyclists1. It is most common for symptoms to develop in individuals who have poor flexibility at the IT band and hip flexors, abnormal running or walking patterns, and/or weakness in the hip stabilizers.

Prevention of Runner’s Knee begins with maintaining mobility and flexibility of the joints and tissues in the lower extremity. Specifically the condition of the IT band should be monitored and if increased tension is noted, stretching and self-myofascial techniques can be valuable. Foam rolling to the outside of the thigh is often used for self-myofascial release at the IT band, and the hip cross over stretch can also be used. Make sure to hold the stretch for at least 20 seconds on each side, using deep breathing to help relax into it.


In addition to mobility and flexibility, strengthening of the stabilizing muscles of the hip is also recommended. Often, the small muscles of the hip are overlooked during exercise, aiding in the development of poor mechanics during activity. A simple hip strengthening exercise is clam-shells:

Lie on your side with you legs touching in a 90 degree angle, next lift your top leg while keeping your feet touching, below is a diagram outlining how to perform a clam-shell.


Repeat these exercises 15 times on each side and complete a total of 3 sets.

If you are currently experiencing symptoms of Runner’s Knee there are a few steps you can take to improve your condition.

  • Rest: Stop over-using the knee for activities such as running, jumping or cycling
  • Ice: Use ice over the painful area for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times per day for 3-4 days
  • Move Within Your Limits: When pain has improved, begin using foam rolling, stretching and strengthening exercises as detailed above
  • Get Evaluated: At Vita Physical Therapy and Fitness, our physical therapists and personal trainers have extensive knowledge regarding rehabilitation of these types of overuse injuries, as well as a strong skill set in proper running mechanics to help get you back to running without pain. No matter your symptoms, we have the right provider to meet your needs.

Click Here to consult with a Vita professional and begin your journey to safe and comfortable running !

– Colleen Baughn, OTR, CES


Lavine, Ronald. “Iliotibial band friction syndrome.” Current reviews in musculoskeletal medicine 3.1-4 (2010): 18-22.

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