Monday, January 27, 2014

Band On The Run

You are out for a run, enjoying nature and experiencing the runners high just like you have done countless times before.  As the miles continue you start to feel a slight pain on the outside of your knee and or hip.  Being a runner we are prone to various aches and pains but this pain intensifies to the point that you have to slow down and eventually walk.
Unsure of what the pain is, you go home, ice the sore spot, take a couple of days off and the mystery pain is gone. You laces up your running shoes and ten minutes into the run the excruciating pain returns reducing you to a slow walk home.  Confused and irritated, you turn to Google for answers to outside knee pain.
What you likely are experiencing is Iliotibal Band Syndrome. Iliotibial band syndrome is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The Iliotibial band is a thick band of fascia on the lateral aspect of the knee, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. The continual rubbing of the band over the lateral femoral epicondyle, combined with the repeated movement of the knee during running may cause the area to become inflamed.

ITBS symptoms range from a stinging sensation just above the knee joint, to swelling or thickening of the tissue in the area where the band moves over the femur. The stinging sensation just above the knee joint is felt on the outside of the knee or along the entire length of the Iliotibial band. Pain may not occur immediately during activity, but may intensify over time. Pain is most commonly felt when the foot strikes the ground, and pain might persist after activity. Pain may also be present above and below the knee, where the ITB attaches to the tibia.

ITBS can be caused by many things, most commonly prolonged exercise in a linear fashion.  Distances runners and triathletes are susceptible to ITBS as all their motion is linear. This constant linear exercise will strengthen the quads and hamstrings but will do little to strengthen the IT band and thus the muscle imbalances can trigger the pain.  Other causes of ITBS include running on a banked surface, excessive up and down hill running and positioning the feet “toed-in” to an excessive angle when cycling among others.

ITBS can be painful and can take time to heal.  I recently suffered from ITBS and after a few weeks rest, aggressive icing therapy and the following exercises, I was back on the road in no time.  Here are some treatments you can use for ITBS:

Utilize a foam roller to roll on your IT band from hip to knee several times a day

Lying Glute Stretch - Lie face-up on the floor with your knees and hips bent. Cross your right leg over your left so that your right ankle sits across your left thigh. Grab your right knee with both hands and pull it toward the middle of your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch in your glutes. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side.
Lateral Band Walks - Place both legs between a mini-band and position the band just above your knees. Take small steps to your right for 20 feet. Then sidestep back to your left for 20 feet. That’s one set.

Soccer Drills – Place five cones several feet apart and practice kicking a soccer ball between the cones, this will help you strengthen your IT band by forcing some lateral movement and having some fun in the process.

Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. 

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