No, not that band, the IT band. . .
My daughter has just started her pre-season training for Track and Field. She is pretty excited about the season and has been working hard to prep her body. Now that she has found her rhythm she has noticed a little pain along the side of her leg. Yes, that IT (iliotibial band) band is giving her a little trouble but she caught the pain quickly, started doing IT exercises and is keeping it stretched and even massaged after each run.
IT band pain is a common injury with runners. It mainly happens when you do not stretch properly before or after a run OR a runner suddenly increases their mileage while training (that's what happened to my daughter).
Your IT band runs down the outside of the your thigh from the hip to the shin. The IT band attaches to the knee to help stabilize and move your knee. When the IT band is not working properly, movement of the knee becomes painful. I describe it as a "catching" feeling, particularly when running uphill. It's VERY uncomfortable! I've had it about 3 times in my running career.
Whether you want to hear it or not, the best thing to do with an IT band injury is to REST and take some time off.
Also, icing your knee and using your trusty foam roller will help break down any build up that you may have along the side of your leg.
When you use the foam roller and you find a tender spot or adhesion, put pressure on that spot for 30 seconds and then continue to roll on that area for a few more minutes. From there continue with static stretching and rest. Please note, the foam roller will relieve the pain but it will not get rid of the injury completely.
In the gallery above, there are images of basic IT band stretches that you can follow. Below, I have listed a few things you can do to prevent from getting an IT band injury. In the meantime, be safe, take precautions and train smart!
Preventing IT band injuries:
- Take a break if you feel any pain on the outside of your knee, sometimes directly behind the knee.
- Before each run, actively warmup. Hip flexor stretch, high knees, butt kicks and side kicks. Warm up the legs and prepare them for a great run.
- After each run, static stretching is the best. Make sure you stretch out those legs, hips, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings. Hold each stretch for a count of 12-15 and do each 2-3 times each.
- Run on grass or sand. Find a softer surface to run on for awhile so that you can keep moving but not strain your legs.
- Check your shoes and make sure they are not too worn. Your running shoes should be replaced after 400 miles. I LOVE all the running shoes that I wear, so this is really hard for me but just like tires, when the treads are so close to flat, DITCH'EM!
- Hello DOCTOR. . .I'M BACK! Have your doctor check out your injury and make sure it's not something different. I am not a doctor and some of you are not either, so get an expert on it, possibly a doctor that specializes in athletic injuries.
So, be safe out there and make sure you are taking care of yourself! If you can't take care of yourself, find someone who will. . .when you find them, can you give them my number?