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A Guide to Common Knee Injuries

The knee problems that threaten to derail your fitness, and how to prevent them.

Sprinter

Illiotibial (IT) Band Syndrome

Symptoms: The illiotibial band is fibrous tissue that runs along the outside of the leg from the hip to the outer side of the shin. IT band syndrome develops when the band is irritated, usually resulting in pain on the outside of the knee, or just above the knee on the outside of the leg. ITBS that is not handled properly can lead to meniscus tears, which can require surgery down the line.

Common Causes: A sudden increase in level of activity—such as increasing mileage as a runner or jumping into sprint-heavy workouts without transitioning from jogging. Can also come from up/downhill and stairs running and from general overuse.

Rehab/Prevention Tips: The RICE method is also effective in injury rehabilitation here. McCall says much of the exercises that can work to fix or prevent IT Band Syndrome are very much similar to those that work for runner’s knee. Stretches that engage the hip flexors, glutes and outside of the leg are effective, especially after exercising. Using a foam roller to stretch out the IT band usually greatly helps the recovery process, although it might be pretty painful.

Once again, McCall suggests starting off with side planks, then progressing up to side lunges and side step ups to increase lateral hip stability. If you feel up to running, McCall says, “Before you run, with both feet on the ground, reach across your body with your hand—with your right hand reach for about 10 o’clock, then reach for 2 o’clock with your left hand. Do that about 10-12 times. What this does is it loosens up the hips so they can work a little more effectively when your foot hits the ground.”

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