My knee pain came back with a vengeance on Monday. I guess it was not as healed as I thought when I did my 16km run. So rather than spend another week icing and complaining, I made an appointment to see a sports doctor and a physiotherapist. I don't have the doctor's appointment for a few more weeks, but I did get to see the physiotherapist yesterday and it was extremely enlightening!
She asked a lot of questions about my running, exercise, marathon plans, etc. She specializes in running injuries and definitely knew what she was talking about! Then she got me into a pair of shorts and bare feet and had me do all sorts of maneuvers, a lot of which involved me lying on the exam table while she bent my legs all over. And it turns out it wasn't quite the runner's knee I had self diagnosed myself with, but a lack of muscle toning in my hip flexors and glutes, mixed with some limited flexibility, which caused my IT band to tighten and get irritated from the running. Also, my left side is weaker than my right, which is why the issue has shown up there. Apparently runners should really cross train and do strength training. Oops.
The IT band is the iliotibial band, which connects the hips to the knee. It is a pretty key part of running and a very common place to injure!
The PT gave me some stretches and exercises to do every day to help relax my muscles to help relax the IT band. She also manually treated the leg by applying downward pressure with her forearm along the injured band- it hurt!! I knew it was going to hurt, though, because so many runners complain about stretching this muscle post run.
Anyway, in good/bad news, she did clear me to keep running, but only 5km at a time. I go back in next week and I am hoping she clears me to run farther if I show some improvement!