ITBS – What has worked + Further Reading
(I originally published this at skorarunning.com)
As both a coach and someone who has ran thousands of miles, I’ve learned a thing or two about injuries.
The primary lesson is that they are almost always from a combination of doing too much too soon before your body is ready and not giving your body ample opportunity to adapt and recover to the training load.
Illiotibial Band Friction Syndrome is a hotly debated subject. The human body is a complicated piece of machinery and as much as we like to pretend, we actually don’t know that much about how it works. For example, a new muscle was recently discovered! With ITBS, if you click on 10 articles you’ll likely see a number of different causes and resolutions.
It is simply described as a main on the outside of the knee:
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Below are just a couple methods that may resolve the discomfort.
First, in my personal experience with Illiotibial band discomfort in the knee many years ago as a new runner who was running too much, the “standing glute stretch” as shown at the top of this article would literally shut off the pain.
I remember an instance when I was out running and 2-3 miles in the little niggle started to come on in the knee. I stopped, stretched for a minute, and was able to continue on for the rest of the long run without any discomfort. A slight stretch was enough to get something to relax, and I was good to go.
Another experience I had was with shoes. Now, I almost never attribute footwear to injury. However, different shoes cause the body to activate, load, and move differently. This can often be enough to make or break a niggle into no pain or into an injury. One time I was forced to spend a week in an old pair of shoes of a vastly different model and the ITBS pain which was basically resolved at that point came back with a fury when running in the new shoes. After getting my old pair back, it again eased up.
Finally, with a couple athletes I’ve worked with over the years who have had ITBS issues, one realized that when she looked farther up the road instead of down closer to her body, her ITBS pain greatly diminished. I even went as far as to recommend this to another runner and he had the same results. In this case, like the shoes, the different head position was changing the entire body positioning, movements, activations, loading. This is why new shoes or compression socks can lead to a sudden change (good or bad) in an injury, because they change how the body moves.
Other Thoughts with ITBS
Compression has been experienced by some as a potentially cause of ITBS knee pain, since the area of discomfort can be compressed by the tights. This is simply something to be mindful of.
Treatment & Prevention of ITB Syndrome | Sock Doc | “If you’ve had Iliotibial band (ITB) Frictional syndrome, then you know how much it hurts, and how it feels like it’s never going to go away”
Your IT Band is Not the Enemy, but Maybe the Foam Roller is | Breaking Muscle | “I would say that in 90% of the cases that present with IT band issues it is the gluteus medius (or glute med if you want to speak in sophisticated PT lingo) that is actually the culprit behind the pain.”
IT Band Hell | Kelly Starrett | “It’s this nebulous catch-all…meaningless thing.”
ITBS: Treating the Real Causes | Brad Neal at Kinetic Revolution | “I would argue that this syndrome is one of compression as opposed to friction”