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7 Tips for IT Band Recovery

The infamous IT band injury…I heard about it from runners all the time, but thought they were just exaggerating the pain ( I mean really all the way up your leg?!) until last March when I was hit hard.
ITBUnfortunately, IT pain is often difficult to resolve because you need all of those muscles to make your leg work…and runners just aren’t smart enough to hold back on working out until the pain is so severe. I went through a lot of processes to get back to a healthy IT band and have had a lot of requests for exercises and information…so here are 7 ways that I found to ease the pain and make a recovery.

1. Medication: If you are in severe pain, a 7 day steroid pack will decrease in the inflammation allowing you to regain mobility. I am not a fan of taking meds generally, but when the pain was so bad I couldn’t walk, this was the only thing that allowed my body to start the recovery process.

2. Stretching: Static stretching and yoga are important to releasing that IT band and lengthening. Use caution with stretching though…you will feel it and your muscle will be tight so it’s important not to push too hard. A few examples can be found here>>

3. Active stretch before activity: New report shows flexibility is increased through active stretching over static. Prior to each run spend a few minutes doing forward and back swings, as well as cross body leg swings. This activates your hips and warms up the muscles. forwardbackwardlegswings
4. Hip strengthening: After meeting with a PT, I learned a lot about how much our hips are required to stabilize the entire body and keep us running with a smooth motion. My PT provided a number of great exercises, which have the added benefit of working the core! You can find complete details in my post on PT exercises
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5. Foam roller: I personally am not a huge fan of the foam roller, but MANY people swear by it. I used it occasionally and still do, but I am not a daily advocate. I think this is one you will have try for yourself…I will warn that it can be painful.

6. Hot tub: Not everyone has a hot tub available, but if you have access I swear by the hot tub for releasing and relaxing the muscle.

7. Easy does it: You do not have to stop running. In fact, many docs have said with injuries that you are better not to stop 100% of activity because that just creates new issues. What you have to do now is listen to your body. If you start to run and it hurts, stop right away and walk. Also, do NOT overdo it with the strength work or stretching or foam roller…this made my injury last for months longer than it should because it exhausted my muscle.

What other ways have you found to help with ITB issues?
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31 comments:

  1. Heyyy! I just sent Marlene and Mel an email with a discount code for RNR Marahtons (if you haven't already signed up). I couldn't find your email addy on here though :( If you want it just shoot me an email and I'll send it to you StephanieArango@gmail.com.

    Also... I saw you have Alaska on your tentative sched to run this year. What race were you thinking? I have to get it done this summer-- just haven't picked a race.

    -Stephanie

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  2. I am one of the pro-foam roller crowd...it hurts like crazy sometimes, but it almost always makes an immediate difference!

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  3. Thanks for the post! I'm always interested in new ways to prevent injury or strengthen my body.

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  4. You are soo right, I have no idea about this pain since I have never experienced it - knock on wood! I feel for those who do though! Happy Tuesday and as always, thanks for sharing :)

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  5. Good post!

    I've read a little recently about pregnancy being a common factor in ITBS (hip ligaments don't always bounce back where they were before), and am finally starting to understand why I might have had so much trouble last year.

    I'd second just about everything you've said, and add that I had to take a hard look at my running form, and miles were/are added really, really gradually. I still avoid steeply cambered roads and long, slow downhills.

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  6. love teh blog...it's always good to remind us active folks of what we can do to deal with the dreaded IT band issues. Thanks!!

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  7. I do a variation of the leg swing in pilates - side leg series - it really, really helps stretch out the IT band and hips.

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  8. Good thoughts on the IT band. I really hurt mine a while back so I am always careful to stretch it and make sure its doing well. I have the foam roller, which I am not crazy about either but its the only other thing I know of that can help, so why not

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  9. when my IT got bad I used the roller. It was the most painful few minutes of my life each day, but it fixed me up fast!

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  10. I had a short bout with ITBS a couple years ago and I am now HYPER aware of the slightest twinges in that area. This is some really great advice - thanks for the compilation!

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  11. I am currently healing from ITB issues. No fun at all!!! Ice, stretching, and the foam roller are part of my regimen.

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  12. dealing with this as we speak!! Thanks for the info!!!!!!

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  13. I haven't had IT band issues... yet I'm sure (knock on wood I don't) but I'm going to go ahead and favorite this page for future reference just in case! :)

    I love your diagnosis, now only if it ended with a recommended "2 pints of ice cream" for a remedy! haha

    -Stephanie

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  14. I am so going to copy this and send it to my 2 friends that are struggling with their IT bands. they are having super problems with theirs. I feel so sorry for them.

    I am going to give the dance show a try (alone of course). It might be a fun way to shed a few calories/ get a good laugh/ and maybe even learn a few dance moves- oh yeah!

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  15. I had IT band issues last year, and it took awhile to find stretches that felt like they helped. What works for me:

    Stretch #1: Cross your legs while standing (so your left foot is to the right of your right foot, right next to each other) and lean forward to touch your toes. Hang out there for awhile. Reverse legs and repeat.

    Sretch #2: Sit down on a chair, and prop your right ankle up on your left knee. Bend forward from the waist. Do NOT press down on your right knee/leg while doing this. Hang out there for awhile. Reverse legs and repeat.

    I tried so many stretches, but nothing really felt like it worked until I found these. Plus my foam roller :)

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  16. Also...do not forget to make sure that you are using the correct type of running shoes. If you are a pronator running in cushioning shoes or a supinator running in stability shoes, the incorrect subtalar position can travel right up the leg to -- you guessed it -- the IT band! Go to a specialty running shoe store and get evaluated for shoes!

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  17. LURVE the foam roller!

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  18. great tips! I can definitely tell my body is letting me know that running is a completely different ball game. I got a high density foam roller, and while it hurts like a mother, it's gotten better and I like it. It seems to loosen things up and literally iron out the kinks :)

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  19. I've been working through a piriformis issue/IT band and it's all working out with lots of special strength building!

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  20. Recently I have found that doing the stair climber and spin classes along with yoga really helps to make my IT band feel good during runs.

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  21. Massage! Laying on my side and having the hubs just rub the area as hard as he could. Hurts like a bitch but helps in relaxing the muscle. I also always stretch them out now after a run but it's a hard stretch to explain. I should take photos! :D

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  22. Great post! I've struggled with IT band issues and my savior has been the foam roller. It is so painful (especially when concentrating on one spot, flexing the knee) but I love it bc it allows me to keep running! Tennis balls or two lacrosse balls taped together work for an in more intense "stretch".

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  23. I've been fortunate never to have IT band issues but know many runners who have. Thanks for sharing all you've learned. I'm sure it will help many and give them hope that their pain will be gone like yours.

    Best wishes for 2010!

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  24. Thanks for this great post!

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  25. Thank you so much for this post!! I just experienced a problem with my IT Band this past Sunday during a race. I linked to this post in my race recap! This is great info!

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  26. Rehabilitation really needs a lot of time for the body part to regain its integrity. This made me remember my experience with my leg injury, I got it banged up when I fell on my skateboard ramp, after they wheeled me to the hospital, just by searching my past electronic health records, they quickly sent me to a room.

    After the surgery and the lengthy rehabilitation process, I got discharged and better than ever, all thanks to the electronic medical records system.

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  27. Thank you very much for posting this, it was really helpful. I'd never really noticed a trouble with my IT band before Sunday, when I was 13 miles into an 18 mile run and had to stop because I was in so much pain I was sure something was torn.

    I panicked and went to Othopedist, who has me taking a ton of ibuprofen and referred to a PT, who taught me stretches that I'd never done, recommended the foam roller, and is going to help me with core strength in future sessions.

    I think I need to work on the hips, too...both on the run I got hurt on and my one run since, I felt like I just didn't have any strength in my legs.

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  28. I just discovered this post and wish I had seen it when I was training for my last marathon! I completely agree with the point about over doing it with stretching and foam rolling- both are great but I went with a 'more is better' mentality and I think if I'd just let it rest a bit I would have rehabbed much sooner!

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  29. This is such great info, my IT band is such a downer on long runs... mainly I just try to ice it and do foam rolling :)

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  30. I am dealing with IT band syndrome right now! Serious bummer! Had to cut way back on my running and am seeing a chiropractor and PT. They are working with me to strengthen my abs and also using deep tissue massage(OUCH!)ultrasound therapy and stretches. Its been 3 weeks and today I was able to run 3 miles with very little pain. My goal is to get back to running half marathons. I know it will take some time and self control to not run through the pain so I can really heal,but I think the combination of massage,stretching, and strengthening excercises is REALLY working! Good luck to everyone else that is dealing with IT band problems!

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