IT Band Problems… Help!

Sorry for being slightly MIA this week. I’ve been dealing with the beginning of an injury and I’m kind of freaking out a little bit…

During my long run on Sunday, I started feeling some pain in my right hip around mile 7 or 8. Not joint pain, but more like muscle soreness. I didn’t think much of it because it was pretty minor, so I finished up my 11 miles and felt totally fine afterwards.

On Monday I did a slow 3 mile recovery run (should have just taken a rest day) and noticed the pain again, but this time it was shooting all the way down my leg and was really bad on the outside of my knee. I iced and stretched and thought it would be okay.

Tuesday morning I woke up to take Dixie for a run and got about 10 steps down the street before I had to stop completely. I didn’t even feel it when I was walking around that morning, but as soon as my feet started hitting the pavement I felt the pain on the outside of my knee again. Dixie was not happy with me, but I knew I couldn’t try to run.

I spent the whole day icing my leg at work and stretching it out whenever I could.

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On Wednesday, I decided to try again. TERRIBLE idea. If there is one thing I’ve learned this week, it is to take a few days off as soon as you start to feel pain. Running through it is almost never the answer. I went slow and felt pretty good, so I did 5 miles on the treadmill. Well, I could barely step off the treadmill when I was done. That’s when I knew I had to just take a break before I made this way worse.

After doing a lot of research, I’m thinking this is most likely my IT band. It started at the top and now the pain is focused in the knee area.

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I think I’ll be resting for a few days. I was really excited to take on the 30 miles I had planned for this week, but sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and do what is best for your body.

Anyone have experience with this injury?ย What kinds of stretches and strengthening exercises do you recommend?

About Maddie @ Dixie Runs

I'm Maddie. I'm a long time runner who has finally decided to start training for my first marathon. I do a lot of running with my 3 year old redbone coonhound, Dixie. This blog is about our running adventures and a whole lot more.
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39 Responses to IT Band Problems… Help!

  1. Ouch! That sounds super painful, I hate that you’re struggling with an injury! I’ve never had that injury myself, but I’m doing some exercises to prevent it. Do you have a foam roller? That would be my first suggestion – get one and roll all up and down the outside of your leg (lots of videos on this). It’ll probably hurt but it’s the best way to stretch out your muscles. As for exercises, you can do the clam shell exercise and also the fire hydrant exercise – those will both help to strengthen that muscle. I’d wait until you’re feeling better before you try the exercises (just google them, there are tons of videos for both – I tried to paste the links in here but they were SUPER long) and really do a lot of foam rolling. And DON’T run!! Definitely take a week to rest!

    • Maddie says:

      Thanks Katherine! I do have a foam roller, so I’ve been using that a lot and it definitely helps to loosen up the muscle. I’ll look up those exercises!!

  2. Amy Lauren says:

    I had a hip issue a few months ago, it was piriformis related. My first stop was the ortho for x-rays to make sure that’s all it was. He sent me to PT, where I went once and they taught me some new stretches and ways to foam roll. It was a big help. I also started getting sports massages and they are amazing for maintenance, so I would highly recommend that. I go once a month now.

    I hope your IT band heals and you can hit the pavement again next week- it’s smart to just take the days off in the beginning instead of trying to run through it and compensate or hurt yourself more.

    • Maddie says:

      One of my good friends is a physical therapist and she sent me a lot of stretches and exercises that I’m hoping will help! There is just so much information on the internet and I easily get overwhelmed, so I’m glad to hear PT worked for you!!

  3. Suzy says:

    Crrrrrap. Okay so first of all, never stretch or foam roll an injury. Never ever ever. Foam rolling and stretching is only for muscle tightness and fatigue, NOT soreness. You’ll make it worse. And when you do foam roll the IT band, don’t roll on the attachment areas. Big no-no. Ice that knee like crazy, and then see if you can get into see a Physio Therapist?

    • Maddie says:

      So the stretching and foam rolling should be for prevention, but don’t do either while I’m actually injured? The stretching feels like it is helping, but I don’t want to make it worse. I’ll keep icing and resting for now. Hopefully it will start feeling better in a few days.

      • Suzy says:

        That’s the general rule, yes. But each body is different and you know your own, and if stretching feels right, then keep doing it. But if it feels good in an ouchy way (you know that “hurts so good” feeling?) then lay off. I’m really frustrated for you. Injuries are so CRAPPY. Do you need new shoes?

  4. ITB problems are the worst! I dealt with that last fall. My favorite stretch for it was to cross one leg over the other (while standing) and then bend down to touch the floor. I also did a lot of foam rolling, and found that it was more effective when I did it toward the hip rather than the knee. KT tape also helped. I had to avoid running hills for a while, especially because that’s what aggrivated my ITB problems. I would run up hills, but not down them. I’d either do hills on the treadmill, or if I was on the road I would walk down the hill. I hope it feels better for you soon!

  5. Heather says:

    The “lying rope hip stretch” found here (http://runnersconnect.net/running-injury-prevention/it-band-injury-runners-stretches-exercies-treatments/) is amazing for IT band pain. I usually hold the stretch for 30-60s and repeat it 3-4 times in the morning and at night.

    Add in some foam rolling and you’ll be running again in no time!

  6. I am just coming out of TERRIBLE IT Band pain! It started in early June, but I kept running because I had a race at the end of the month, which was my first mistake! I had all the same symptoms as you – going down stairs or running downhill was the worst! Sometimes I could barely run down my street without tons of pain.
    I finished up my training and my race but with tons of perseverance because it HURT. I took an entire week off after my race to see if I would heal. No dice. I saw a physiotherapist the next week and it turned out I was experiencing IT Band Syndrome and had been for a while. I had to take almost a month off from running to let myself heal, because I had made it so much worse by pushing myself.
    I really suggest going to see a physiotherapist because they totally know their stuff! I was given daily strengthening exercises and stretches and she worked with me twice a week (and massaged my IT Band which was the best part!) I am pretty much healed now except for the occasional flare up but I know better now than to push it:)
    I also had gotten a pair of shoes for Christmas that ended up being totally run for my gait. She said that could definitely have been one of the reasons I had experienced so much pain. Also running the same route over and over (or doing an out and back along the same route) has a large effect on IT Band pain.

    • Maddie says:

      Thank you for all of the info!! My college roommate is a physical therapist so she is sending me lots of exercises and stretches to do and told me to totally rest it for a week. I know the feeling of wanting to push through training but like you said it will end up doing more harm than good in the long run! I’m glad to hear you are all healed up!!

  7. PS – Wow, sorry for such a long reply!! I would just hate to see you make the same mistake I did!! Rest up and hopefully you aren’t in too much pain:)

  8. I’ve had more than enough experience with this. You need do get your glutes to activate and work on releasing your gluteus medius and activating it. Email me and we can discuss. But rest it as much as you can otherwise. Taping can help–it can activate the nerves–but it won’t cure things.

  9. When I first started running I experienced IT Band syndrome and had to go through physical therapy because I ignored the issue for so long. Turns out, it had a lot to do with my running gait, pronation, and wearing the wrong type of shoe. You may want to look into getting a run gait analysis and have someone analyze your running style. It may be that you need a different type of shoe.

    I wonder what triggered it โ€“ because you have been running for a while, right? Sometimes when you start stepping up the mileage, speed, distance, etc. the issue can become more prevalent. Very smart of you to stop and take a break. I hope that itโ€™s only temporary and that you will be back out there in no time.

    • Maddie says:

      I’ve been running for years, but until this year I don’t think I had ever ran more than 7-8 miles at a time. I’ve always run in the same shoes and have never had problems before, but I’ve also never had anyone fit me for shoes based on the way I run. I wear insoles to correct my pronation, but it would be worth talking to someone about my shoes too!

  10. Oh man, I’m so sorry! Injuries are the worst. Definitely take a few days off to rest and ice it! I’ve never had a real issue with my IT band (besides just general tightness). Get a softball or golf ball and use pressure on your hip (It’s all connected, so even if it’s hurting you in the knee area, it’s probably because your hip area is too tight) area with it. Also I really, really recommend sports massage! I went to my friend that’s a massage therapist when I hurt my ankle and she worked primarily on my hips down and worked a LOT on my IT bands and EVERYTHING felt better after. Definitely, definitely recommend it!

  11. Melanie says:

    I hate that your are sidelined. I think a lot of the suggestions you got are good! My friend suffers from IT band issues and she gets a sports massage monthly which has helped her tremendously. Hang in there!! Hoping for a speedy recovery for you!

  12. ITB pain is the worst! I like pigeon pose for loosening it up a bit, and I foam roll gently.

    Rest is the best healer for it. Preventative measures are squats/lunges and leg lifts…anything that will strengthen your hips and glutes.

    • I’ve been doing pigeon pose which has really helped to loosen my hips! From everything I’ve read strengthening the glutes is the best way to prevent this injury, so I’ve got to suck it up and get back to doing my squats and lunges!

  13. You’re doing the right things by taking time off right now before it gets any worse! I’m sure you’ll be back to training soon! Good luck, keep us updated! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Kerry says:

    I’ve had ITB pain quite a few times, and I’ve had a lot of runners come to my yoga classes with it. Stretching will give you temporary relief, but it is by no means an absolute fix. Stay off of it for a bit, and then you need to start incorporating hip/core strengthening, stretching, and warming up into your workout/running routine. I’ve tried foam rolling, but I think it aggravated it more. The stretching and strengthening was the only thing I could do to get it under control, but unfortunately you have to wait until the inflammation goes down to even start.

  15. Ugh! The dreaded IT Band pain! You have to foam roll. At least do a little each day. And, I recommend trying out some sort of knee brace/support.

    I had a lot of IT Band pain leading up to WDW Marathon; I wore one of those thin knee tubes, and that helped a lot.

    This training cycle, I have been more diligent with my foam rolling and have not needed to pull out either of my knee supports.

  16. Rest, Rest, Rest!!! If I’ve learned anything its take time off and rest while you have pain. Don’t push through it because it will only prolong the issue. Seems like you may need to cut back a bit once you do start up again. Injuries come from overtraining.

  17. Fallon says:

    Sorry to hear you’re hurting! That is never good news. I’ve had issues in the past that may have been IT band related but I was never sure what brought them on or made them better. I would usually spend lots of time with my foam roller and stretch more. I also sat on a tennis ball on that side. Could be all in my head but it helped. Hope you feel better soon!

  18. Sorry to hear this! I have a client training for his first marathon who had IT band issues and the best thing he did was rest and ice it. He took 2 weeks off from running (did some cross training instead) and it was much better. I hope it starts to feel better soon! It can be easy to get down but keep your head up! You’re doing what you can now to heal.

  19. Hi Maddie,

    Really sorry to hear this. It must be frustrating when all you want to do is run.

    Resting up for a bit sounds like a good idea until you are strong enough to go again. Did you consider a quick visit to the doctor for any advice?

    • Thanks! My physical therapist said 7 days of rest and gave me some stretches and exercises to do when it started feeling better. If I’m still feeling pain after 7 days I’ll be going to see someone.

  20. Karen says:

    Aww, take the days off and keep up what you are doing. I hope you are getting some relief.
    I recently had a bout with my hamstrings which wasn’t a usual problem for me. I had to string together about 4 days rest and run and rest and after a few weeks it has started to improve. I iced, visited the PT for a massage, and did a lot of simple stretching when my legs were warmed up. After my runs I took extra time to do all the stretches and it helped. Hang in there!

  21. Thomas says:

    Look into kinesiology tape. It’s helped me get over and even run through (although not recommended) strains and injuries including Achilles’ tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and (my least favorite) IT Band strain. Ice has never helped me much with this injury. I can’t say much for stretching either. KT tape seems to be the ticket for me. It adds support and takes stress off the affected tendons/muscles. Also pay close attention to your stride when you return to running. Look for irregularities, make sure it’s efficient compact, and that your weight is centered over your hips and make sure you’re not over striding/extending that side. Take it easy on uneven surfaces, seems to a contributing factor for many people, myself included.

  22. Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear this! ๐Ÿ™ First off, don’t foam roll the injury – I know some people as saying to, but it will only inflame your IT band more. Secondly, try some hip strengthening exercises. Run to the Finish has lots of info on how to strengthen and stabilize your hips to prevent ITBS. Since the IT band connects the knees to the hips, most issues arise from weak or instable hips, which many of us women are prone to because of our build. And, as bad as it sounds, I’d advise laying off the ice and any NSAIDS, since these can dull your body’s response to healing the inflammation that’s present. Rest, time, and then some strengthening exercises are the best bet. I really hope you feel better soon!

  23. I can’t really offer any help, just wanted to say that I hope you feel better really soon! Injuries are the worst so I hope you recover quickly. Sending thoughts and prayer!

  24. Booooo!!! I hope you feel better soon!!

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