ExplainerIT band injury for runners – prevention and cure for knee pain caused by inflammation
- An inflamed IT band issue can be debilitating for runners, and there are a few ways you can prevent or cure it to get back to your running ways
- The IT band is a line of fibres that run from your hip, down the outside of your thigh, to the top of your shin
Knee pain can be frustrating for runners, house bound as they long to stride the roads and trails. Just as it feels better, and you head out again, lo and behold, your knee plays up again.
Knee pain for runners can be caused by numerous issues. One common problem is an inflamed Iliotibial (IT) band, which is the band of fibres than run from your hip to the top of your shin.
If it persists or is very painful, seek medical advice. In the meantime, here are some remedies.
IT band syndrome causes and symptoms
The IT band becomes inflamed for a number a reasons. The most common is over use. Too much running, or too much intense running, can cause it to inflame.
Another cause is a mismatch in muscle strengths. If one part of your body is much stronger than the other, it may end up compensating.
Poor running technique will cause issues too. As will old running shoes, or running in the wrong footwear.
The symptoms of an inflamed IT band is knee pain, particularly on the outside of the knee. It can feel like something is pulling on your knee as you try and run. It can be especially painful when you go down hill or down steps.
Sometimes there can be a clicking or popping sensation as you walk or run.
The first cure is rest. Do not run while it is still painful, and build your mileage and intensity back up slowly even when the pain subsides.
Ice the knee and outside of your leg to reduce the inflammation. You can also consider over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs.
You should self-massage your thigh. Also, foam rolling the outside of your leg will help.
Massage your hips with a ball by sitting on the ground, crossing the foot of the affected leg of the other knee and then placing the ball at the top of the buttocks until you find a tender spot.
Also, stretch, do yoga and other gentle dynamic stretches to release the tight muscle fibres.
Preventing the IT band issues from returning, or never happening the first place, involves tweaking your training.
Warm up properly. Before you run, you should include some dynamic stretches and a slow run, before taking off at full tilt. Afterwards, do some static stretches to cool down.
Strength training is vital to prevent injuries. It will iron out any imbalances between limbs that lead to issues like IT bands, strengthen the muscles so they can deal with the stress of running, improve your posture and technique so you do not get injured when you tire and also improve your speed and endurance.
Try exercises like the single leg Romanian dead lift – stand on one leg, lean forward and raise the other leg behind you until your body and back leg are parallel to the ground then stand up straight again.
Or the Bulgarian split squat – put one foot on a chair or raised platform behind you. Bend the front leg, until you back knee almost touches the ground and drive up again.