Injury Prevention and Recovery: IT Band Syndrome

As a result of just moving into a new place and having to wait a week and a half for wi-fi (first world problems i know), I’m finally back to blogging!

We’ve all been there- you’re training hard and expecting a big PR in your next race when excruciating pain suddenly plagues you mid-run. Luckily these injuries can usually be prevented or you can make a quick recovery!

If you are a runner and have yet to experience IT band syndrome, you likely will. Whether it is simply some tightness in the band itself or a throbbing knee, taking care of your IT band is important!

Thanks to Google, I can tell you that the Iliotibial Band is a ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin. When ITBS occurs, the IT band becomes tight and inflamed from overuse. The biggest symptom is pain on the outside of the knee.

Luckily numerous visits to the physiotherapist and many hours of research have made me a self-proclaimed IT band prevention and treatment expert!

If you’re having severe pain on the outside of your knee that is keeping you from running, go to your physiotherapist. But, if you’ve never had IT band problems or have in the past, it’s time to start some stretching and strengthening to make sure it never keeps you from training! Here’s what to do:

1. Stretch. Stretching out your glutes will be your saviour. Do this stretch everyday for 1 minute (or more!) on each side.
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2. Foam Roll. If you think foam rolling is evil now, wait until you foam roll your IT band! It’s beyond painful, but so worth it! Try to roll each side for a minute everyday.

3. Strengthen your booty. Surprisingly, this is the most important. While there are many glute exercises that will benefit IT band syndrome, the classic “clam shells” work magically! Start with 30 on each side everyday and increase to 40 after a week or two.

How do you stretch and strengthen your IT band?

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

You may have noticed I haven’t made a blog post in quite awhile and there’s a very good reason for that-I haven’t been running much! As I mentioned in a previous post, I am having an issue with one of my toes as it is curved and forces running impact to hit the tip of the toe, rather than the bottom. It doesn’t sound like a big deal and it never was a problem, until I increased my mileage and suddenly my little useless toe was in so much pain I could barely walk, much less run.

After trying countless toe separators and sleeves, my doctor has finally referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. While I’m relieved to be resolving the problem, I’ve been overwhelmed with disappointment.

Way back when I started training, I had all of the races I wanted to run all lined up with countdowns going for each one, all in preparation for the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon in October. For once I was actually excited about running and was truly enjoying the training experience. I would wake up early in the morning actually smiling knowing I would soon be out the door running. I even skipped some Saturday nights out in order to rest up for my Sunday long run.

I’m sure you fellow runner’s can relate to this running euphoria, but for me it was new. Throughout high school I struggled against girls who were much faster than me and I struggled to run the short distances of track and cross-country. By grade 12, I was completely unmotivated and barely put any effort into training. When I began university I was barely running at all and struggling to find success in my schoolwork and was desperately seeking something outside of school that would make me feel accomplished. I found this in running.

It didn’t take long for me to decide that I needed to run a marathon and before I knew it I was immersed in training and was working harder than ever. As I said before, I had dreamed up what my entire experience would be like and looked forward to every step. This is why it was so hard for me to accept that my foot couldn’t take it.

Once I decided I couldn’t continue training, I learned that I could handle going for a short run one day then biking the next in order to keep my fitness up. But, while it may sound dramatic, I had trouble even enjoying these short runs knowing it was all for nothing and I would lose the fitness level I had worked so hard for four months to achieve.

As I found myself in a running rut, I finally found inspiration while watching the women’s 10k at the USATF Championships. If you watched it or saw the results, your mind probably immediately went to Shalane Flannigan, however, in my circumstances it was Kara Goucher. Kara led with training partner Shalane early in the race but fell back hard and finished fifth. She recently wrote a blog post about how truly disappointed she was with the race and how she thought she was for sure going to place in the top 3. But, as she says in the post, things don’t always go the way you want, but that’s no reason to give up.

She made me realize that you need to set new goals and be grateful for these learning experiences. I now know I was crazy to be that upset by my changed running plans. I’m only 19 years old and have a long running career ahead of me. This will only be a short time off in the long run and I will come back stronger than ever and ready to conquer my first marathon! Sorry to Kara for stealing your post’s title for mine, but it was just so appropriate!

Here’s a link to Kara’s blog post: http://www.runtheedge.com/2013/06/you-cant-always-get-what-you-want/