If you have knee pain when you're running, especially when you run downhill, you could have a condition known as iliotibial band syndrome, also called IT band syndrome. Although this condition affects your knees and legs, the problem can originate in your feet or be made worse by gait issues. A podiatrist might be able to help you manage the condition so you can run without pain again. Here are some things to know.

How Your Gait Can Affect IT Band Syndrome

The iliotibial band runs along the outside of your knee to support your knees and legs when you run or walk. If you have a gait abnormality, such as excessive pronation due to flat feet or supination, the way you run or walk changes. There may be stress and strain on the IT band causing it to be more susceptible to injury or making it harder for it to heal.

How A Podiatrist Checks Your Gait

A podiatrist can do a gait analysis and find out if you have an abnormal gait. However, you might have a clue by looking at shoes you wear frequently. If the heels of the shoes are worn down on the edges, it could indicate you carry your weight on the outside or inside of your feet. This foot roll can affect more than just your feet. You might have pain in your back, hips, knees, or legs when your body mechanics are out of alignment.

A podiatrist may watch you walk, make a video of your feet while running on a treadmill, and pressure map the way you bear weight. A computer helps analyze the data so your podiatrist understands your foot mechanics as you walk and run, and also knows how you bear weight.

How A Podiatrist Can Help IT Band Syndrome

After looking at the data from a gait analysis, your podiatrist can prescribe orthotics to wear in your shoes when you walk or run. Since everyone is different when it comes to foot mechanics and weight bearing, custom orthotics often provide the best effect. However, your podiatrist might start by recommending the best shoes for you to wear along with medical-grade orthotics you can buy over the counter.

If those orthotics don't completely help your pain, then your podiatrist might make a mold of your feet so you can receive custom shoe inserts that fit your feet perfectly and may give you better results.

Wearing orthotics is just one part of treatment for IT band syndrome. You may also need to rest while you heal and undergo physical therapy. Once you've healed and are wearing the proper running shoes and orthotics, you might be able to prevent another episode of IT band syndrome and knee pain.