A a few weeks ago I mentioned there were 2 things I’m constantly asked about…
One is hamstring injuries; check out Why Stretching Your Hamstrings Might Be a Waste of Time.
The other is how to get rid of lateral knee pain – ie, the dreaded ITB syndrome.
Back in early 2011, I wrote about ITB pain.
If you’re interested, have a read of How to Give Your ITB Some TLC.
It’s now one of the most popular articles on this site.
That’s hardly surprising; iliotibial band syndrome (the fancy name) or ITBS is one of the most common injuries suffered by triathletes and runners.
And ITB pain after running – and sometimes during it – haunts both new and experienced runners.
And it doesn’t matter whether you are new to running or have been doing it for years, it has an amazing ability to sneak up on you and suddenly appear out of nowhere one day.
I can still remember exactly where I was the first time my battle with my ITBs began all those years ago.
Given how many runners and triathletes suffer from it and how popular that initial article was, I thought I would revisit the topic and walk you through the exact steps I put my client’s through when I suspect their ITBs are unhappy ~
Mind out of the gutter please 🙂
Officially known as your adductors, your inner thigh region is long forgotten cousin of your ITBs.
But they have a super important role in keeping you stable when you walk or run.
When tight, they effectively pull your leg closer to the centre (mid-line) for your body which has the effect of ‘lengthening’ your ITB and putting it – and the bone where your ITB attaches to your hip and knee – under extra stress.
This (additional) stress leads to inflammation and the distinct ITB pain after running that you feel.
So make sure you do 2 things;
Firstly, foam roll your inner thighs.
A word of warning, I’ve seen this bring a tear to a grown man’s eye.
So if it hurts, start with just a small portion of your lower inner thigh (near your knee).
And secondly, move your hips! Side lunges (done properly) are a perfect way to gently stretch the area and get your hips working properly again.
Yes, you read that correct. Don’t roll your ITB.
I don’t want to bore you with the mechanics. So the short answer is – it doesn’t work and it’s a waste of your time.
If you want the long answer, drop me an email!
You’ll get far more results than you will by torturing your ITBs with it.
Do whatever stretches your physio has given you. Religiously!
If you aren’t sure what stretches to do, see a personal trainer or physiotherapist. There is no short cut or magic pull that’s suddenly going to erase the problem.
You don’t get fit by sitting on your butt and doing nothing. You won’t get rid of your ITB problem by doing the same.
Because not only do your butt muscles (aka your glutes) need to be strong, they need to switch on at the right time AND in the right order.
You might think that if they are ‘strong’ then they should switch on at the right time and in the right order. But unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
So use hip bridges to strength the major muscles in your butt AND do all the single leg exercises your physio suggested.
If you aren’t injured – or you’ve forgotten what you’re supposed to be doing – check out this awesome series of single leg stabilising exercises from US-based physical therapist and triathlete Chris Johnston.
This goes hand-in-hand with #4.
You can have the strongest glutes in the world BUT they won’t work properly – actually, they can’t work properly – if your hips are too tight.
If you spend a lot of your day sitting down – eating breakfast, on the way to work, at work, riding a bike, watching television or on the computer etc – and you enjoy running and want to do more of it, then stretching your hip flexors needs to be something you do every day.
Make it a part of your day; brush your teeth then stretch your hip flexors. Better yet, brush your teeth WHILE stretching your hip flexors! 🙂
Denial is not a place you want to spend – or waste – your time. Trying to ‘run through it’ will not work. Taking a few days off running to rest it generally doesn’t work either.
Unfortunately ITB pain has the potential to be a long term problem if you don’t get on the front foot and take action at the first sign of a problem.
Of course, it should go without saying that taking these actions on a weekly basis even BEFORE the first sign of a problem is the best plan of attack!
Now you’ve probably read some or all of this advice and are now thinking to yourself “yeah, I know all that”. But here’s why you’ve heard it before – IT WORKS! So get to work 🙂
So enough with the talking. It’s your turn.
Pick one of these 5 steps. Implement it TODAY and then leave a comment below and share which one you chose and why.
And if you enjoyed this article, I’d love it if you would use one of the buttons on the left to share it with your friends 🙂
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