Yesterday, I received a lengthy email from Jessica (hello!) in regards to ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome).
I’ve had this in the past (it’s not fun and it hurts like the dickens), so I promised her a post on what worked for me in terms of recovery.
At first, I was hesitant to write this because:
- I’m not a doctor.
- Even though people experience the same injuries, I believe that the causes can be different. For example, I think I suffered from ITBS because I have weak hips, but someone else could suffer from ITBS because of a leg length discrepancy.
As a disclaimer: This is what worked for ME. Remember that I’m a business major, not an orthopedist. Seek help from an actual doctor before taking my advice.
1. Get A Foam Roller
The foam roller that I use is called “The Grid.”
To be honest, this was one of the smartest $40 purchases that I’ve ever made. I’ve used “regular” foam rollers in the past, but “The Grid’s” and edges on this foam roller get really deep into the muscle. It hurts, but in a good way
When my ITBS started, I rolled three times a day. It took about two weeks to start noticing an improvement, but it really did help. These days, I typically roll in the morning or at night, but sometimes I’ll roll twice if I feel something coming on.
Honestly, I’ve never been a stretcher.
However, for the past few months, I’ve been stretching everyday and I’ve really noticed a difference in terms of how flexible I am and a decrease in injuries.
I aim to stretch for about 5-10 minutes (minimum) per day, either after I’m done running or before I go to sleep.
Side lean stretch
Hip flexor stretch
These two stretches helped me immensely to recover from ITBS. I would do them before running, after running, sometime throughout the day, and right before bed. Yeah, I loosened those muscles up.
3. Run Less (Or Not At All)
I started out by only running a few times a week, but things still weren’t getting much better. Finally, in October/September, I took nearly 2 weeks off of running. I think the complete rest really helped!
If the pain is mild and you still want to run:
- Avoid hills
- Ice (10-15 minutes at a time)
- Take ibuprofen afterwards. Taking anti-inflammatories before exercise can mask the pain and cause you to make your injury worse. Advil is not a “cure all”.
Honestly, I don’t take Advil (or any over the counter drugs) at all. If I have a headache, I’m probably tired. My body knows how to fix itself, and in this case, it probably means I need to take a nap.
4. Cross Train
To make up for not running (or reduced running), try to substitute high intensity elliptical training or high intensity cycling in it’s place.
Only do something that doesn’t cause pain. If you can’t do the elliptical, try swimming. There are plenty of ways to stay in shape.
Do not neglect this!
For the most part, most injuries have a root cause. Just because your knee is hurting, that doesn’t mean that the actual problem is in your knee. It could be on the other side of your body!
I had an evaluation at the physical therapy office that my school provides to students for free. I didn’t actually undergo treatment there, but the physical therapist determined that my hips were week, causing my knee is “dip in” when I was running. After just a week of doing the strengthening exercises that he showed me, I already started to notice an improvement.
One of my favorite exercises:
Stand sideways on the stair with one foot on the stair, the other foot hanging off the stair. Relax the hip of the leg that is hanging off the stair so that your foot falls below the stair. Then, tighten your hip and bring the foot back up so that it is level with the foot on the stair. Start with three sets of ten and increase a little bit each week.
For me, this really helped!
Another exercise that helped me was side leg lifts:
- Lie on your side, with your lower leg bent, upper leg straight and positioned a little to the back.
- Keep your ankles and arms relaxed.
- Lift your upper leg, contracting your buttock muscle at the same time.
- Lower the leg slowly and repeat the movement.
Remember that recovering from an injury is going to be a different for everyone. What helps me might not help you.
Have you ever had ITBS? What helped you recover?