The dreaded IT Band Syndrome. Have you experienced it?
The iliotibial band is a thick band of fibers on the lateral or outer edge of the thighbone. It runs from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserts just below the knee. This band helps to stabilize your knees during activities like running.
Sometimes when we engage in physical activity where the leg is turning inward repeatedly, (running down hill for an extended period of time, or running in worn-out and unsupportive shoes)... this connective tissue can start to rub against the thigh bone and cause pain along the IT band. I've had this happen to me multiple times and the pain can be really bothersome.
Unfortunately, this happens more often with women because our hips can tilt in a way that cause our knees to turn inward.
STEPS TO PREVENT:
1. Warm-up/stretch before you run
I don't always stretch before my runs, and usually I can feel it afterward. When I take 5 minutes to stretch my legs out, I usually feel like my body doesn't ache quite so much. I will always walk/speed-walk at least 50 yards before I begin my runs. This helps to get those muscles warm and moving before more stress is added.
2. Decrease your mileage if you need to
If you feel some strain coming on the outside of your knees, take a few days rest, or decrease your mileage for a bit. Sometimes our bodies just need a break!
3. Run on flat ground
Choose some running routes where you know you'll find flat ground to run on. This eases the pressure on your knees and can help to avoid IT Band Syndrome.
4. If you are running on a track, change directions repeatedly
Try switching it up a bit every once in a while- you may find that it makes your workout a lot less monotone anyways!
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE IT:
1. Use a foam roller
If you don't have a foam roller, I'd highly recommend getting one! Foam rollers are such a great way to get sore muscles back into shape, and rolling the IT Band out can help to relieve some of that pain.
If you are experiencing too much pain, just rest! It's as simple as that. The more strain we put on our bodies when they're already in pain, is when more serious injuries occur. Give your body a break.
3. Ice the side of knee
Ice helps with pain and swelling. Hold ice on side of knee, for 10-20 minutes, 3+ times a day.
Here's a good stretch for your IT band you've gotta try! Stand up tall with your left leg crossed over your right. Lean to the left into your front leg until you feel a stretch right along the side of your leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs.
Here's another stretch I love, and he explains it perfectly. Click here.
I said it once, and I'll say it again, STRETCH, STRETCH, STRETCH. Before AND after a run, if possible.
Remember to listen to your body: stretch when your body needs it, rest when your body needs resting, and resume exercise once you feel ready again. Good luck!