Today’s Workout: stretching, lower body strengthening, yoga video, elliptical 30 minutes
The past few days have been absolutely gorgeous
in NYC and its been killing me that I can’t run. I’ve been watching all the happy frolicking runners with the smiles on their faces and secretly saying not-so-nice things under my breath. No, I am not cursing at the runners themselves but they are a reminder that I am sidelined. I am just jealous
! Its as simple as that. I really, really want to rewind to a time when I was a happy runner… like 3 weeks ago…
You may be asking yourself… “Megan, what happened to you?”
For those of you who are new to my blog, unfortunately a week or so ago I was “officially” diagnosed
by my doctor with IT Band Syndrome
(even though I self-diagnosed myself at least 2 weeks ago). Since that time I’ve become slightly obsessive in learning everything I can about this injury and reading blogs, medical websites, and forums to see what the best treatment techniques are. I need to get healthy and back to running ASAP! You understand, right?!
I hate you IT Band. We are not friends.
Since this is a common injury, I know many people probably are wondering what they can do for it. I already described the causes and symptoms of IT Band Syndrome
in a previous post
, so I’m assuming this information is mainly for those of you who already know
you have it. I’ve decided to compile some of the information I know about this condition and tell everyone exactly what I’ve been doing for treatment.
Disclosure: these are things I have found that helped me, but everyone is different. Also, I am not a doctor (the schooling takes too long) and these recommendations are only from personal experience. I recommend that you visit your doctor for additional information about your own injury.
Anyone with this injury will tell you that the first step in recovery is stretching
, and lots of it! I found a lot of good stretches around on the internet, and this video below summarizes pretty much all of the major ones I use. I also do the pigeon pose
(yoga pose), but be careful with that one at the beginning. Also, this stretch
is great but its another one that I don’t recommend doing while your injury is still really acute.
These stretches I do daily at least 2x each. You can do them while watching TV, but its crucial that you stretch for this condition. Its the only real way to recover and prevent it from coming back again.
The other major thing I do is foam rolling
. I use The Grid foam roller
, but you can pick up a cheaper one at most stores like Target. Usually, I foam roll for 5 minutes then take a break and do 5 minutes more. I do that 2-3x a day. Usually while I’m watching an inspirational show or something.. like Millionaire Matchmaker (hm, not inspirational you say? I beg to differ). Honestly though, with foam rolling the more often you do this, the better
. It WILL
hurt like hell
at the beginning but after a week or so the pain won’t be as bad.
***This might be one of THE most important things you can do for this injury.***
Ice baths and ice packs are also recommended since this is an inflammatory condition. The main goal here is to reduce the inflammation and ice is the way to do that. You can put ice packs on the side of your knee where the pain is a few times a day for no more than 15 minutes at a time. I usually take 15 minute ice baths instead since it covers the whole length of the IT Band. Once you are in there for a minute or so, your legs get numb and you’ll barely notice the cold. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Plus, feel like it’s helped me so it might be worth a try.
No idea who this is but ice baths aren’t this horrifying!
Also, there’s no need to put ice up to your neck. Ever.
It is also possible that muscle weakness in the core and lower extremities played a role in your IT Band syndrome. The condition will only return if you don’t focus on strengthening the weak muscles. Specifically, the most important areas to strengthen are your glutes and thigh and leg muscles. I have been following a really great routine that was posted by a runner. It provides 6 different exercises to use in order to properly rehab the IT Band (below). Do these exercises only when your acute pain has diminished or you may continue to irritate the band. I do these every other day 2x each.
Also, even though its a small muscle the gluteus medius
is crucial to running, but is weak in most runners. It’s job is to abduct the hip and stabilizes the pelvis. When it is weak, it can cause tension in the IT Band which can lead to inflammation (see the photo below). I have been working on strengthening this muscle and have been using these awesome exercises
. I typically do these every other day (to allow the muscles to repair themselves) along with the other strengthening exercises
Imagine your IT Band stretching over your hip and knee joints in photo B. Not good.
is also recommended during rehab, since a weak core can have negative effects throughout your body and lead to injury. Since I definitely have a weak core (watch me do a plank… I’m pathetic), I have been doing yoga for this and also for general stretching. In a previous post I provided two yoga for runners videos
that I do every few days as possible.
Once the acute phase is over and your pain diminishes, you may want to try some light crosstraining (e.g. elliptical, bike, swimming). I highly recommend swimming since it put the least amount of stress on your IT Band. But if you do the others, take it easy with minimal resistance. And ease back into these exercises slowly. DO NOT do any of these if they cause you any pain, you will only make your condition worse!
Other suggestions to help heal your IT Band include: taking anti-inflammatories (daily from a doc or Aleve), checking your shoes to see if they could be causing misalignment of your lower body, and eating right. A friend suggested to eat more protein during the healing phase so I am trying that (not sure if it works, but hey I’ll try anything). I am also making sure to take my multivitamin, my random assortment of vitamins, and also Vitamin C. Vitamin C has been said to aid in healing, so why not give it a try.
Don’t we all just love our vitamins?!
If you really NEED to run or are just returning to running after this injury, you can check out the IT Band strap
. It helps distribute pressure to minimize friction of the IT Band over bone. This should not be used as a permanent solution by any means but is an option for some situations.
I really hope this information helps some of you. I will keep you posted on my recovery and how all these strategies are working for me. Heal well everyone!
Summary of treatment strategies:
stretching, foam rolling, ice baths/ice packs, lower/core body strengthening, yoga, light crosstraining (especially swimming), taking anti-inflammatories, IT Band strap, eating right, checking your shoes.. and just hoping your body cooperates!
Any other suggestions for IT Band Syndrome recovery?
What injuries are you dealing with at the moment?
What types of vitamins do you take?