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Knee pain for runners can be one of the most devastating conditions to the morale of the runner. Any runner that you talk to will probably, at one point of the conversation, mention something about it being a mental game more than physical. If you are suffering from a chronic nagging pain in the knee while running, it can literally take you out of the race before it even begins.
I have seen many videos on how IT Band Syndrome is the culprit. I have personally experienced pelvic rotation which over activates the hip flexors which translates into pain in the knee. There are schools of thoughts that the style of running greatly affects the knee. And to wrap it all up, some people believe that the problems originate in the feet. I’m here to tell you that all of these are true. It ultimately, really depends on the individual. In fact each individual may suffer from multiple problems that seem to zero in on the knee.
As a fellow knee-pain-suffering runner, I think that I have probably the best, all-inclusive answer. The answer is Functional Movement. If the runner is suffering from weakness in key muscle groups, they will suffer from repetitive stress injuries to the body. For myself, I was diagnosed with Valgas Knee. This is a condition where the knee deviates to the midline of the body when you run. It is very evident from behind during the run. If you have ever seen a runner with the windmill swing of the feet, it is the tell tale sign of muscle weakness that is preventing the proper glide of the knee joint. Over time, the constant grinding of the knee joint, because of the imbalance the muscles to rub against the joint and eventually create a searing pain that doesn’t go away.
I have had incredible massages that help alleviate the chronic trigger points that develop in my leg muscles, but as soon as I start to put mileage again on my feet, the pain returns as well as the knots. I visited the St. George Running Center, and had a running assessment done by the amazing Steve Hooper and through his efforts changed my running style. For a time, the pain resolved. However, eventually the pain returned, and this time with a vengeance. I participated in a half marathon in February 2014 and was on pace for the best time that I have ever done by almost 45 minutes. It’s amazing what training can do! But at mile 10, everything fell apart. Knee pain was off the charts, but all of a sudden, a new pain that I had never experienced before became front and center. My right hip was exploding with pain. I walked more in that race than I think should be legal. In fact, the only reason why I ran the last half mile is because I didn’t want my family to see me walk in a race.
I couldn’t sit with my leg crossed up on my other knee due to the near instant pain. It was at that moment, that I determined that there had to be something different and better than all of the approaches that I had taken prior. It was time to get to the root of the problem. I finally went and had an evaluation by a Functional Movement physician, and within 30 minutes determined that my Gluteus Medius muscles were excessively weak and was the prime cause to my running woes. With some new exercises dedicated to strengthening my injured muscles, I am finally on track to having these problems resolved and now running pain free.
If you are dealing with similar injuries that do not seem to go away, The Whiplash Center of Utah is now utilizing Functional Rehabilitation to help the injured athlete return to their lifestyle. Coupled with Therapeutic Massage, we are able to help turn around the athlete that is in a tailspin to giving up the things they love because of pain.