In the first of our Runner’s Series of articles and videos, today we’re discussing one of the most common injuries that runners can suffer with: Illiotibial Band Syndrome (also known as ITBS or IT Band Syndrome). We’re coming up to the New Year when a lot of people take on a new challenge or resolution. If you’re embarking on a new training regime, whether you’re just trying to lose a bit of weight after Christmas indulgence, you’re participating in a Couch to 5K or a you have a Spring Marathon planned, ITBS can stop you in your tracks so it’s important to know how you can avoid it, or how to treat it if you already have it.
ITBS is certainly a common running injury we see and deal with a the clinic, as it can be more challenging to handle on your own. Your IT band is a fibrous tissue that runs along the side of your leg, connecting from your hip to your knee. If you’re experiencing pain from ITBS, this will most commonly reside on the outer side of your knee, and it can feel like it’s quite deep.
How Can I Avoid IT Band Syndrome?
ITBS can be especially prevalent in people who also work in a desk job, particularly if you run in the morning or you run-commute to work. If you run before going to work, and then spend a number of hours sat at a desk, the muscle can tighten up while you’re inactive, pulling on the IT band creating that pain on the side of your knee. If you’re a new runner, it’s important to gradually ease yourself into the sport in order to avoid developing injuries, especially overuse injuries such as ITBS.
Couch to 5K programmes are fantastic for easing you into the sport at the right speed, while providing guidance from a professional the whole time. If you’re following a programme you have found online, it’s important to not suddenly jump one that has you immediately running 4-5 times a week. Although it’s quite normal for your cardiovascular system to adapt relatively quickly to exercise, your muscular system can take much longer to adapt to these stresses, meaning it can be easy to think you can run further or for longer when your body isn’t yet ready. It’s also important to cross-train with other forms of exercise alongside your running to strengthen your body and prevent overuse injuries.
Combining running with strength training can be a good choice, as it can support your running form and posture by strengthening your back, core and legs. If strength training is not for you, you may find yoga, swimming or the elliptical machine to be good alternatives and provide variety in the muscles you’re working. If you’re currently rehabilitating a case of ITBS, you may find the elliptical machine to be a low-impact alternative to maintain your cardiovascular fitness if you’re struggling to run.
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