Running is a great form of exercise that many people enjoy. All around you can see men and women out for a run, whether a daily jog to stay in shape or training for an upcoming race. Running, however, is a high-impact sport that puts a lot of stress on the feet and other joints. When runners develop pain in the feet, ankles, or knees, they can find themselves sidelined for long periods of time. Many of these injuries, like Iliotibial Band Syndrome, are easily treated and prevented with proper footwear and care.
Feet Affecting Knees?
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITB) is the painful inflammation of connective tissue called the iliotibial band. It stretches down from the hip along the thigh, over the outside of the knee, and attaches to the shin bone. When it becomes strained—usually from overuse or poor support—the place where it covers the bone rubs against the joint and irritates the whole area. This can make using the knee, especially when running, very painful.
So where do your feet fit in knee pain? Your feet are your base. They hold up everything else. When they are not properly aligned, or have a condition that weakens them, your body’s support is compromised. This can stress other joints like the ankles, knees, hips, and back, leading to problems like ITB. Protecting your feet with good, comfortable footwear and treating problems that alter their alignment, like flatfoot or high arches, can help you prevent pain in other places.
Can I Prevent ITB?
Preventing a problem before it starts saves you from future pain. Good conditioning warms up your muscles and eases your body into exercise that it can handle without injury. Since good support relieves stress you might be putting on your iliotibial band, check your shoes for wear and tear. Replace worn shoes to maintain maximum support. If your shoes, especially your running sneakers, are showing signs of uneven breakdown on either the inside or outside of the foot, you may not have proper arch support. Special shoes or custom orthotics prescribed by one of our podiatrists here at Absolute Foot Care Specialists can provide additional support to your feet and consequently your knees.
I Already Have Pain, So Now What?
Many effective, conservatives treatments for ITB exist that can get you back to running pain-free. Rest, icing, and anti-inflammatory medications help calm the irritation and reduce your pain. Cortisone injections may be needed to soothe particularly painful inflammation. Physical therapy stretches and exercises loosen the muscles and then strengthen the joint, helping support the knee. Replacing your shoes and wearing orthotics if needed also help the knee maintain its alignment and relieve stress on the muscles. Only rarely, if it is not responding to basic treatment, will ITB need surgery. The key to healing is working with foot specialist Dr. Noah Levine to determine what may have caused the initial injury and to develop a plan to best support your feet and knees by eliminating the root of the problem.
As a runner, you don’t want to give up your sport because of knee pain. In the case of iliotibial band syndrome, the discomfort can easily be treated and prevented in the future with proper support and strengthening. Don’t wait until you can’t run any more to seek help for your pain! Contact Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas for an appointment or for more information to see how caring for your feet can protect your knees, too. You can request an appointment online through the contact page or call us at (702) 839-2010.