How to Prevent Lateral Knee Pain When Running

If you just started learning forefoot running and you have experienced lateral knee pain when running, also known as ITBS, the source of the condition is not your form, but rather weak abductor muscles.

Running with ITBS

How to Prevent Lateral Knee Pain When Running

Abductor weakness allows for a narrow step-width running pattern, or a crossover running gait, which causes the iliotibial band (IT band) to compress the fat pad beneath it.

To relieve compressive forces on the fat pad, do the exercises (shown below) to strengthen hip abductors as doing so will widen your step-width when you run.

Below shows the effects of weak abductors on gait and lower leg alignment in a runner:

How to Prevent Lateral Knee Pain When Running
Weak abductors cause knocking knees and a narrow step-width during running

Below, is how your thighs and knees should be spaced apart in the stance phase of running:

Strong Abductors prevent ITBS in running
Strong abductors keep the thighs and knees spaced apart thereby preventing knocking knees and cross-over running.

The thighs should have a straighter alignment as shown above with Ryan Hall who demonstrates this perfectly!

Abductor Strengthening Exercises

To end ITBS, the following hip strengthening exercises increase step-width. Training yourself to run with a slightly wider step-width reduces tissue loads as well.

Remember, no stretching! Only strengthening! Stretching aggravates muscle soreness and tearing.

Below, are key abductors strengthening exercises that will widen step-width and eliminate crossover running.

Iliotibial Band Exercises
Do each exercise : 3 sets of 12 – 15 reps, a few times a week to start. Work your way up to doing these daily.

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~Run forefoot, you are faster than you think!~

Bretta Riches

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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