IT Band Syndrome: How to Avoid it and Treat it

By Elizabeth Jenkins


I’m not a doctor, but I DID stay at Holiday Inn Express last night…ok, that’s a lie BUT I do know something about IT Band Syndrome. It sucks.

This blog post isn’t going to get deep into the physiology of IT band issues, because I’m sure I’d be wrong. It is intended as a ‘scratching the surface’ introduction to the problem and how you can avoid it.

I have been running for a while now and have been completely injury free until about a month ago. I ran the Timpanogos Half Marathon and ever since then, I have been in PAIN. The race was mostly downhill and that was probably the culprit. This is because when you run downhill, you are using different muscles than when you run on flat ground. DUH. If I had been diligent in my stretching, foam rolling, and piriformis massage, I may have been able to avoid this huge inconvenience.

Another aspect of this post is to help those who have a “strange knife pain on the outside of my knee a couple miles into a run.” Chances are this is IT band syndrome rearing its ugly head. It doesn’t make sense that your knee would hurt when the problem is in your hamstring, quad, or piriformis (upper butt muscle) but it does if you look at the picture to the left.

As you can see, the IT band is pretty big. A lot of muscles surround it. The IT band really isn’t designed to stretch, but the muscles surrounding it are! When one or more of the muscles around the IT band are tight, they begin to pull on joints and may irritate the fascia causing it to pull at its insertion point on the outside of the knee.

How do you prevent it? STRETCH (and strengthen)  ALL THE MUSCLES OF YOUR LEGS AND BUTT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! Stretching can prevent a lot of issues. Once stretching is discounted or eliminated as an essential part of a work-out, issues start popping up all over. Not just IT band issues, but plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, shin splints and more! Foam Rolling is also important. Rolling massages the muscles and gets knots out. Foam rolling should be done frequently. If you are foam rolling and it is painful, that means you need to be doing it more often. Let your muscles tell you how often to roll out. You can also use a really hard ball and sit on it. This will massage your piriformis. My favorite ball is from Trigger Point.  It is called the Quadballer. This ball has a fabric outside, but a hard square inside. It is the best thing I have found for working out kinks in my derriere. I’ll even take it in the car with me and sit on it while driving. Be warned, it isn’t for the weak. This little ball can draw tears from even the toughest of folks.

Going back to foam rolling, if  this is a totally foreign concept to you, or you don’t know if the foam rolling you have been doing is even working, come to our next foam rolling clinic! It is on Thursday September 15, 2011. We have two classes, one at 12:00 noon, and one at 6:30 pm. Both classes are held at our 700 East store. The classes are free and open to anyone who wants to learn more about foam rolling and injury prevention.


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