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A Therapists Experience with Knee Pain

I have never been much of a runner. It was never my exercise of choice.

However signing up to my first Tough Mudder I thought it might be necessary in order to make it through the event. I mainly did short efforts to match how the race would be and I was managing fine.

However due to previous injuries to my hips just before the race I started to notice some pain on the outside of my knee. This pain is generally named ITB friction or “runner’s knee” which many of you may have had.

I rested and managed the race but noticed my knee kept flaring up. After the race I made sure I did the right things and returned to my usual activity which didn’t involve much running.

A year on I decided to try a bit more running, I was managing fine with smaller runs but once I tried to increase it the sharp pain returned. As I was travelling soon I couldn’t do the rehab needed but once settling here in Edinburgh I decided I needed to get back into fitness.

I started from scratch and decided that rather than repeat the same process I went back to basics. I was a natural heel striker which meant I was landing more so on my heels in running. I knew this didn’t help my knee so decided to start with small runs and change my running style completely and slowly build up. I started noticing that not only my knee felt different in the runs, that also because I was running differently my pace and steps changed which meant I was automatically running faster and more efficiently.

I see many patients with this exact pattern.

Unfortunately a lot of people are told they need to reduce the tightness in their ITB (outside leg) by stretching it will fix the problem. However, unfortunately once they return to running most will notice their pain return.

Sometimes a small change in where you run, type of shoes, if you are compensating from another injury or have just progressed too quickly can cause these symptoms. Changing these can help however sometimes we have to look at why your body is reacting with this tightness. Landing with your foot in front of you and bending through the knee or lack of stability within your pelvis and back can also cause your knee to suffer. Releasing or stretching the muscle may cause temporary help but will not change the cause.

Now having been through the process myself I ensure that I look at a person as a whole and work with helping the patient to look at the longer term rather than just make the next run.

If you have recurring injuries, seeing a Physiotherapist can help identify not only the problem but look at the underlying causes. Addressing these means the chance of recurring pain will reduce and you can start to have the confidence to take on any challenge.

I’ve even decided that running isn’t that bad now!

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