The racing season is getting closer and closer. For some runners, it hasn’t stopped all summer, running Ultras in Europe, America and across Asia. As we all know, one of the most common running injuries is the IT Band (illiotibial band) syndrome. IT Band injuries occur when the tendon becomes inflamed, this results in sharp pain outside the knee.
What is the IT Band?
The IT Band is a thick band of connective tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh. It starts at the top, is inserted in the gluteal muscles and TFL (tensor fascia latae) and runs down just below the knee, connecting to the tibia. The IT Band cannot tighten or stretch on its own. As it is inserted in the glutes and TFL, when those muscles are tight, they pull on the IT Band. The same goes to stretch and release it, it doesn’t release on its own, you need to stretch the hip flexors, TFL and glutes to loosen the IT Band.
Causes of IT Band injuries:
IT Band syndrome can affect any runner, whether you are a beginner or long distance runner. The IT Band is connected to the gluteal muscles (butt muscles). When we have weak glutes, tired or overused glutes, the IT Band becomes unstable, which also decreases the knee stability, pulling the knee inward or outward. Two things that can cause any IT Band injuries; today’s lifestyle of too much sitting, resulting in weak glutes or over training by increasing your mileage too fast, or running too fast (speedwork) when not trained enough.
How to prevent IT Band injuries?
Including strength exercises in your training program will prevent any IT Band injuries. It is important to focus on strengthening the hips and glutes to make sure we run in proper form.
Exercises to strengthen the glutes and hips.
1.Squats- Pistol squats
5.Lateral leg raise
6.Side steps with resistance band
7.Step ups- Side step ups
How to recover from an IT Band injury?
If you’ve been diagnosed with an IT Band injury, you need to stop running for 7-14 days. During recovery, you need to perform these exercises every other day and on alternative days focus on strength and core exercises. Also make sure you foam roll and stretch daily. Foam roll gently and avoid rolling the IT Band itself as it may aggravate it. Foam roll the hip flexors, TFL, glutes, quads and hamstrings for 1 min/ each muscle. If you are dealing with an accurate injury, include physio or dry needling to speed up recovery. To prevent any IT Band injury, perform these exercises 2-3 times/week. Once the knee pain is gone, go for a test run on a flat surface or treadmill, avoid any downhill, stick to short distances, and increase your mileage gradually if there is no knee pain.
Taking care of our hips, glutes, quads and hamstrings will ensure that the IT Band stays healthy and flexible.
Train Hard, Eat Right, Feel Great!