If you’ve never heard of IT Band Syndrome, it has nothing to do with information technology, a rock band, or any psychological disorders. IT band syndrome, illiotibial band syndrome for long or ITBS for short, is a very common overuse injury for runners that manifests as pain in the side of the knee or sometimes in the hip. Click HERE for a good Runner’s World article on the topic if you’re not sure your knee pain is IT band syndrome.
For those who have been following the blog for a while you will remember this post when I signed up for a half marathon and this post where I recapped my experience running the race, including a pretty painful flare up of IT band syndrome. The race was nearly three months ago and I’m back to running pain free. How have I been working on my recovery?
Rest. The most important part of IT band syndrome recovery was rest. I took a full week off any exercise and a full month off of distance running. When I started back running I kept my runs to three miles or less, slowly building over time. After training for the half and really growing to love a long run, this was mentally frustrating for me, but the frustration of feeling like my body was holding me back was much harder when I tried running again too soon. This part takes PATIENCE, and the patience is the most essential step toward proper recovery.
Massage. Rubbing out the soreness is hugely helpful in treating IT band syndrome. I did this in three ways. First, I got a professional sports massage, asking for focus on the IT bands. (Visit SpaFinder Wellness and Take 10% off all orders. Use promo code ACCESS at checkout to redeem. Massages don’t have to break the bank.) Second, I started carrying my Moji 360 Mini Massager that was sent to me to test and share my opinion with my readers. Opinion: IT’S GREAT. It’s small enough that sometimes I carry it on runs and massage any soreness as it arises. I take it in my purse to the gym for the same reason. You can pick one up for $28.99 on Amazon, and I would definitely recommend it as a great portable massager.
Third, I use my foam roller religiously. If I run, I roll. That sounds like a t-shirt or a motto for a really weird cult, and considering how much I love foam rolling I might have already started one.
I have the smaller of these two pictured above and keep it under my bed, so it doesn’t take up any space at all. If you’re looking for something more firm, the Trigger Point is on sale at Zappos right now. Runner’s World has a video of how to foam roll the IT band HERE.
Cross Train. I didn’t want to lose my hard-earned cardio shape while taking a rest from running, so instead I hopped on a bike, dove in a pool, or used the rowing machine in place of the treadmill. This keeps the legs strong without aggravating the IT band.
Yoga. I know some of you will groan at the idea, particularly if you spend a lot of hours distance running and feel like you have no time for yoga. If you are struggling with IT band syndrome make time for yoga. Working in this short video from Ekhart Yoga’s YouTube Channel helped tremendously with my flexibility and taught me good ways to stretch and lengthen the band, hopefully minimizing future IT band syndrome flare-ups. Give this video a try if you’re unsure about the idea. It will only cost you 20 minutes.
IT Band Straps. Not everyone who has tried running in straps loves them, but for me they have been a game changer. If you struggle with IT band syndrome, they are worth a shot. Just put some Body Glide under the straps to avoid potential irritation and place the compression pad right on the IT band where it would hurt after running. These are not for helping you get back on the trails too soon after IT band syndrome pain. They are meant to assist in preventing future flare-ups.
By combining all of the above recovery steps I am happily back to running pain-free. Have you had to deal with ITBS? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share with friends who need tips on how to deal with IT Band Syndrome.
This post is not intended to be medical advice. Chronic IT Band Syndrome pain should be addressed by your physician.