IT Band syndrome (iliotibial band syndrome) is a very common issue among endurance athletes such as runners, cyclists and triathletes. It can be stubborn and debilitating enough to stop someone from running or cycling altogether! It typically shows up as pain on the outside of the athlete’s knee (aka lateral knee pain).
To illustrate how complicated IT Band syndrome can be to “fix”, we’re going to tell you about 3 different athletes who came to see us because they developed knee pain and felt that they had “IT band syndrome” after confirming with Dr. Google. Two of them were runners and 1 was a cyclist. The well-meaning advice they were given by their personal trainers and friends was to roll out their IT bands with a foam roller. Result: It did NOT help any of them! In fact, it probably made 1 of them worse! Check out this video to learn more about foam rolling and your IT band:
The #1 thing you can do to fix your IT Band issue is to get a proper assessment of WHY your IT band is getting irritated! Otherwise, you are literally shooting darts in the dark and probably missing the target. It’s best to get a professional to help you figure out a plan to find the quickest way to get out of pain and back to your sport!
Here’s a video of Client #1 who had to stop both running and cycling after doing a spartan race with tons of hills. When the owner of our practice, Victoria Liu MSPT, FAAOMPT, CPI, RKC evaluated him, she determined that the driver or the ROOT cause of the pain was in fact, coming from his ankle. So, she worked on his ankle….. she did NOT work on his IT Band! He has an old ankle fracture from 20+ years that was totally pain-free so he didn’t even think to mention it during the initial evaluation. But Victoria picked up on it with her comprehensive full body assessment. The result: he felt 90% better after the 1st session. Check out the video below to see what happened when he would perform a single leg squat on his L leg:
Client #2 was a female distance runner and a dentist by occupation. She literally spent hours in awkward positions working on people’s teeth….she didn’t complain about back pain but that’s exactly what was causing her IT band issues! Her evaluation revealed her spine was slightly shifted and there was a lot more tension on the left side of her back which caused more tension in her glutes. In this video, you can see how the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in your body) attaches to the IT band and can cause it to pull on your knee cap:
Client #3 was a cyclist and the root cause of his knee pain was actually from a poor bike fit! After addressing his bike fit, he no longer had knee pain and his IT band stopped being irritated.
All 3 clients were able to resume running and cycling within 1 week because we addressed ROOT cause rather than just rolling out or massaging their IT Band. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t foam roll at all and that you don’t need to address the mobility restrictions in the leg however.
Here’s something you can do at home for yourself- all you need is a tennis ball, lacrosse ball or a trigger point ball:
These 2 solutions *MAY* help you or someone you know but should not be a substitute for a comprehensive assessment from a health care provider who is knowledgeable in running and cycling mechanics! If you’d like to learn more about how to run pain-free, improve your run performance and run into your 70’s or 80’s, you can check out some of our services here: http://ironhorsept.com/bulletproof-runner/