Knees seize up after almost exactly 1.5 miles every time I run... help!



So, I used to run a lot when I was a teen and got a glut injury (as I didnt think I needed to stretch!) when i was about 20... I sorted that out and it went away... then I had no problems until about 5 years later (I'd run frequently for 4 of those years, but did nothing in the 5th year)... I noticed that after running for a period my knees started to seize up. There was a circuit of about 2km that I used to run weekly and I noticed that every single time i did the run, right towards the end at the same point my knees would seize up. I would stretch them out (pulling my leg back so my heel is on my lower back) and then finish off the short distance remaining.


So, I never really gave it much thought until about 2 years ago when I decided to go on a long distance run. After about the same distance as usual my knees seized, 'no problem' i thought, this usually happens and after a quick stretch I would be on my way again. Well, that day I ran 8 miles (stopping periodically to stretch my knees) running through the pain (which i now realise is stupid) until i could barely take a step further (going uphill was virtually impossible by the end). So I ended up walking back, which was comfortable (unless it was uphill). 


I then found that each time I tried to go on a run, my knees would seize up but after a very short distance.. and when they seized up, it was as though someone was injecting concrete into them or strapping some kind of metal lock over each knee, meaning I could barely take another step (again, walking was painless - as was every day life). 


It's now about two years on from that 8 mile run and I appear to be back to where i was previously, stuck at about 1.5 miles. I can run totally comfortably up until this point. Then when i reach it BANG! In goes the concrete into the knees and I can barely take another running step. I can stretch out and then do another 100 metres or so, but that's the max.


I have recently been doing a huge amount of leg stretching and leg weights (squats, lunges, all the leg machines) as I was told by a physio that i had weak thigh muscles and tight hamstrings... but after all the work i have put in, out i go on a run today and nothing has changed whatsoever... 


I have also signed up to the London Marathon in April! So I am really against it... if anyone has any wisdom for me, I am desperately keen to hear it.


Sorry for the massive essay on my running life, but I thought the more info the better.


Kind Regards,




  • You have just described ITB problems. 

    London is now your secondary concern - sorry, but it has to be.

    Would suggest:

    1) Rest with ice applications on knees and hip area for up to a week.

    2) During the week, Youtube ITB stretches and find two that feel good for you. find a stretch for your lower back as well....this is key. 

    3) Do chosen ITB exercises and chosen back stretch frequently

    4) Sack your physio

    5) Run 1 mile - for a week

    6) Run 2 miles - for a week

    7) Don't forget your ITB stretches and back stretch!

    8) Run 3 miles - for a week

    9) Stretches! Don't forget

    10) If you increase your mileage slowly and you maintain the ITB and back streches then you should be DOES take a while to get this sorted.


    ...I'm not a physio, I burn toast.




  • Thanks bpm... this is strange though as one of the stretches I have been doing is rolling my ITB band up and down on one of those round rubber roller things and whilst it was excruciatingly painful to start with, it doesn't hurt at all now... so I mistakenly thought I had sorted! Or do the ITB stretches not necessarily hurt?


    Also, you mentioned the lower back which is very interesting as I have had lower back pain in the past... although never when running.. does this be contributing then do you think?



  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Don't assume everyone can run. Most cannot. Its why they don't.

  • RicF - are you saying I am simply not born to run?!

    I did used to run quite happily about 6 years ago... I'm hoping I can relive those glory days!


    And yes, the two Springsteen references were intentional!

  • FYI, I went to see a new physio yesterday and he reckons that it is my piriformis muscle and/or lower back - both of which are very tender. They don't hurt themselves during the run, but he believes that these areas could be responsible for causing the trouble. He looked at my IT band and said that it was fine... and he checked literally everything else and said my legs were absolutely fine... so I am desperately hoping that he's right.


    Lot's of back and piriformis stretching ahead.



  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Do you see adults run around like children in primary school?

    The evidence is clear. To paraphrase, 'some of us can continue to play the children's game for longer than others, but one day; and that day will come, when you have to stop'.

    Some people should never start.

    The problems only occur when true 'non starters' assume that lack of time, money and motivation are the only reasons why everyone doesn't run around like gazelles.

    Its mostly genetic luck.

    'Not running' on account of re-occurring injuries isn't quitting, its common sense and accepting reality.

  • Your outlook might be perceived as excessively negative. I think it might be a good idea to try and resolve my injury issues before I throw myself off a bridge


    Thank you for your comments regardless... but I wish to run with the gazelles like I used to!

  • Hi Will will

    I would go back to Physio and see if they can help you before giving up.  I have had a problem with my hip muscles and their exercises have really helped me at a time when I was thinking of giving up my 2014 paris marathon dreams.

    I havent had any issue with my knees myself so I cant give you any advice there, but stick at it and I am sure that you will be able to sort it out, it may take some time to sort though image

  • Hi Will,

    When we run if we have poor gluteal functions we over use our hamstrings. These insert (attach) just below the knee which can cause fatigue and this 'stiffening' feeling. The sciatic nerve is sometimes affected which can also cause this feeling however the physio will have done the relevant test to rule this out.


    1.Be careful with the use of ice if you feel it is an acute (recent) injury because of its effect on healing.

    "Now a study from the Cleveland Clinic shows that one of these recommendations, applying ice to reduce swelling, actually delays healing by preventing the body from releasing IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1), a hormone that helps heal damaged tissue (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, November 2010)."


    2. The evidence that stretches have any effect on ITB length is poor although anecdotally people sometimes reports this help. ITB problems are often linked to compression rather than traditional views of friction and I would urge you to have a listen to the podcasts below to learn more about it, however your physio is the only one who has assessed you so can give the most accurate diagnosis based on pain patterns, mechanism of pain and then specific tests (thats why we do 3 years at uni and usually post grad!).


    3. Graded return.

    The return to running must be gradual often using the 1 min run, 2 min walk approach. Gait assessment is also valuable. How many physio sessions have you had? I wouldn't give up. If you are not happy with your progress perhaps look to see a specialist physio or gain a second opinion from a colleague. 

    4. Referral from backs are very common in runners which is why it is important to do a running assessment. This tends to be sharper pain that you can't run through. Often people can describe where the pain is but can't put their finger on it. A straight leg raise is a simple test used to differentiate nerve and hamstring tightness.

    Does your pain come on at the same time as back pain?


    5. If you love running I do not think you should give it up but perhaps change your management. There are many things that can affect pain and remember that pain is a warning system of the brain which means sometimes pain can be worsened through 'dodgy processing.' If you have had pain for over 6 months we know that changes within the brain and spinal cord can affect the way that we interpret sensory information from the body. You may find this article interesting


    I hope this has been useful,


    Nicole Jones (Newbury Clinic) MCSP



  • Very interested to hear if Will has found a solution?  His problems sound similar to my own.  I had to stop running 3 years ago as my knees seized up, I ran through it and could not walk the next day and it became gradually worse and came on after shorter and shorter distances.  I try many different glute strengthening exercises and try running again after every 6 months or so but it is always the same.  About 10-15 minutes in, knees turn to concrete and it becomes so painful I can only walk. Desperately miss running and would be extremely grateful if someone could help me at all....

Sign In or Register to comment.