Pain associated with IT band syndrome tends to get intense with physical activity such as running and cross-training. So you might be worried that running with IT band syndrome will worsen your condition or prolong the recovery time. But does running with IT band syndrome affect your overall fitness?
Well, this guide focuses on the IT band syndrome and whether or not you should continue running with it.
Causes of It Band Syndrome
Overuse leads to tightening of the IT band, causing it rub against the bone at the knee. This often cause pain and inflammation.
Differences in leg length
The anatomy of your legs may be such that one leg is longer than the other. So, whenever you’re running or walking the iliotibial band gets stressed.
Incorrect Shoes or Orthotics
When you run with incorrect or overworn shoes, your feet tend to land at abnormally dangerous angles. This causes your hip and knees to get stressed increasing the risk of IT band syndrome. Lack of proper arch and ankle support may also contribute to the wrong running gait which may lead to IT band syndrome.
Poor Running Gait
Taking longer strides when running increases your risk of suffering IT band syndrome.
Weak muscles especially at the hips impair your running causing the iliotibial band to get stressed.
The muscles running along the side of your leg or on the hips might get too tight leading to inflammation of the IT band.
Symptoms of It Band Syndrome
Depending on the severity of the IT band condition, you may experience any of the following conditions.
- Pain on the outer part of the knee especially during strenuous activities such as running or cross-training.
- Swelling, warmth and redness on the outer part of the knee
- Pooping or clicking sound at the knee
- Hip or thigh pain
- Buttocks and knee may feel tender to touch
Unlike many overuse injuries, IT band syndrome is also exclusively diagnosed with physical examination and medical history. Sometimes ultrasound or MRI tests may be performed to help in the diagnosis.
Treatment for IT Band Syndrome
Most of the interventions for IT band syndrome are intended to reduce the pain and inflammation. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may opt for the following interventions.
- Massaging, stretching and strengthening the leg muscles and IT band to ease pain and reduce inflammation. Foam rolling from the hip to the knee can help loosen the fascia, IT band and the tight muscles.
- Over-the-counter medications such ibuprofen and naproxen may be taken to reduce pain and swelling.
- Ultrasound may be used to help propel the uptake of anti-inflammatory medications into the affected tissue.
- Administration of corticosteroid injections may be necessary to reduce inflammation.
- Orthopedic surgery is the last result for treating IT band syndrome. This may be necessary in case nonsurgical interventions fail to reduce the symptoms.
How to Prevent IT Band Syndrome
You can prevent IT band syndrome by doing the following:
- Avoid running with longer strides
- Wearing appropriate running shoes
- Avoid wearing overworn shoes or replace your shoes on a regular basis
- Avoid running on tapering surfaces to prevent landing at abnormal angles
- Regular stretching of the IT band, hamstrings, thigh muscles as well as hip muscles. When stretching or during workouts allow your body some time to recover to prevent overusing the muscles.
- Foam rolling may be used to loosen the IT band. Foam rolling should exclude the bony and painful areas.
5 Exercises for IT Band Syndrome
1. Side Leg Raise
Stand with your legs straight and hold on to something like a wall or chair with right hand for support. Lift the left leg to as high as it can go then slowly lower it down to the initial position. Repeat this exercise severally then do the same for the other leg.
Alternatively, you can do this while lying with both feet in a straight position. Lie with left side and lift the right leg as high as it can go. Return it to the original position and repeat this severally. Do the same for the left leg.
2. Hip Thrust
Position your shoulder blades on some support e.g. a workout bench. Your feet should rest on the floor and knees bent. Now, squeezing the glutes, lift the hips as if to align your back with the floor. Hold for a while and lower the back to the original position. This repeat this process at least ten times.
3. Clam Shell
This is done while lying on the side, knees bent at 45 degrees and legs stacked together. Now, with your lower leg intact, lift the knee of the upper foot as high as it can go. The pelvis and hip should not be allowed to shift throughout this procedure. Repeat this about 20 times and do the same for the other side.
4. Pistol Squat
Balance your body on one foot while raising the other foot slightly and arms at 90 degrees to your body. Slowly lower your body until you squat with the one leg parallel to the floor. Slowly get back to the original position and repeat this 5 to 10 times. Do the same for the other leg.
5. Side Shuffle
This is done with legs at about hip-width distance and the body bent at the hips. Now, in this position move to the right in 10 quick steps then move to the left in a similar manner. This helps in improving your movement in both directions and makes the lower body much stronger.
Running with IT band syndrome can result to reduced performance or make the condition worse. However, it is possible to correct the condition through timely intervention and following the correct procedures for treatment.
Also, you can prevent IT band syndrome by wearing the correct shoes, running on suitable surfaces and adopting the correct running mechanics.