IT Band or the iliotibial band is connective tissue that you find on the outside thigh area, it connects your shin and hip and is also attached to your knee as a stabilizer and to help facilitate joint movement. Suffering an IT Band injury is a huge problem for many triathletes and runners and can cause a lot of pain, thus making running and general knee movement an unpleasant experience.
When everything is working properly the IT Band smoothly rolls over the outside of your femur and is cushioned by a sort of pillow that is filled with fluid, so when you bend your knee you do not notice it. If you suffer from an injury to this area however, the movement will not be smooth and there will be IT Band friction which will inflame the tendon (not the knee as is often incorrectly thought) and become painful when running or cycling for instance.
The main cause of inflammation or a tight IT Band is more often than not overtraining, but there are also physical problems that many of us are born with that make us more susceptible like having one leg longer than the other, a bow in your legs or problems with your arches.
While we all pick up niggling injuries during the season we can often train through them, but unfortunately this is one injury that you cannot fight through because once you have problems more stress from exercise will only make things worse. The basic solution to get you back on the road is firstly rest, then try and find out why the problem started in the first place and find appropriate treatment, only then can you start building back up to where you were before.
There are many solutions to this problem, but one does not fit all in this case, I have outlined 10 basic ideas to get you thinking and working on your IT Band problems and possibly preventing them, but reading a more complete solution that guarantees results is the best way to go if you want to be back on the road quickly.
1. Try and prevent problems in the first place by working on strengthening your glutes, this helps in preventing the natural inward motion of your thighs when you run, a definite trigger for IT Band trouble.
2. Change your running shoes on a regular basis, usually around the 400 mile mark.
3. You should do IT Band stretches every day, but you need to do very gentle stretching especially with a new injury, otherwise things could get much worse.
4. Massaging the area is also of great benefit, but you need someone who knows how to do a good deep tissue massage, or do it yourself if you have no partner or the money for a good masseuse.
5. As previously stated – Take a rest for a couple of weeks!
6. If your injury is very slight and you can train (not recommended), stick some ice on the area every 15 minutes stay on flat ground and avoid any hills on your usual run.
7. Better still, forget the running and cycle or use the elliptical to keep your cardiovascular fitness up until you recover.
8. When you are cycling you should lower your seat so your legs do not extend fully and cause your IT Band to tighten too much.
9. Experiment with moving your bike seat forward, again this stops over tightening and helps regain the power that you lose by lowering your seat.
10. Keep your pedaling constant, use your gears to maintain a steady cadence to keep IT Band friction as low as possible.
Information and statements regarding sports injuries, prevention of injuries or treatment of any injuries whatsoever are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical problems and are for informational purposes only. Always consult your Doctor before you undertake any exercise or suspect you have an injury.