IT Band Syndrome
If you are a runner, chances are good that you've suffered from an injury at some point in your running career. It may have been hip, knee, lower back, or foot pain that brought you to a stop. In any case, the experience was likely unpleasant. Some of the most common running-related injuries are also the most preventable. One of the most common running-related injuries is iliotibial band syndrome (IT Band Syndrome).
The iliotibial band is a sheet of tissue that runs from the hip to the knee. At the hip, it connects to a muscle called the tensor fascia latae. This muscle works in abducting the thigh (pulling it away from the midline of your body) and rotating the thigh medially while walking or running. At the knee, the IT band attaches to the tibia, or shin bone, at a point known as Gerdy's Tubercle. This point is located on the tibia just below the knee, on the outside of the leg.
Pain from iliotibial band syndrome can be quite debilitating, and will certainly bring your running to a temporary halt. The pain is generally diffuse, and is located at one of the attachments of the band of tissue. Most people complain of pain at the knee, specifically at Gerdy's Tubercle, but the pain may also be referred to the hip.
If you have a tight iliotibial band, there may be some relief from stretching out the tissue:
- Stretch #1: From a standing position, cross the injured leg behind the uninjured leg. Next, lean towards the uninjured side, with your hands on your hips for balance.
- Stretch #2: While sitting on the ground, extend your uninjured leg straight out in front of your body. Next, cross the injured leg over the uninjured leg, and pull the injured leg as close to your chest as possible.
Try each of these stretches, holding the position for 30 seconds each. These should be done everyday, especially after running. If the pain persists, you may want to go to a doctor to rule out any other causes of hip or knee pain.
If you're just beginning to run, don't let IT band syndrome discourage you. It's something that is easily fixed, and can often be attributed to a pair of poorly fitting shoes.
Remember that pain is not normal. It is the body's way of warning itself that something is wrong. If pain persists, it may something more serious and should be evaluated by your doctor.