Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why IT Band? Why?!!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I never claimed to be a doctor. If you want one, my sister will be one in a few years. But I never will. In that case, the information I am presenting comes from my own experiences and from reading books and the internet. If you have a similar problem, its recommended that you do not self-diagnose like me but go see an actual doctor for a real diagnosis and treatments.

Ask anyone who knows me really well, or actually anyone who knows me even just a little bit, and they will tell you that I am incredibly accident and injury-prone. Its just in my family genes. Thanks mom and dad. I've had more injuries than I can count and since I have always been an athlete, the number and severity of injuries was probably doubled because of that. Since I started running last year, I've had problems with shin splints and blisters. So I got compression socks for shin splints and sport shield for blisters. Problems solved.

Now a new issue has arisen. And while I'm not surprised I have another ailment, it is disappointing when all you want to do is run pain-free. During the end of my 5 miler yesterday, I started to get a little throbbing pain on the outside (lateral part) of my knee. It stuck around after I stopped running and was still there in the morning. So in my crazy mode I googled everything under the sun until I realized, "Hey I spent money and bought a book for times like these". I opened up the Running Doc's Guide to Healthy Running (by Lewis Maharam) and turned to knee injuries. Pretty soon, I self-diagnosed (not recommended!!) myself with Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome.

So what the heck is the IT Band? Well, it looks something like this....
Look at those sexy muscles. The IT Band is that big ugly white band running from your iliac crest (hip) to your tibia.

 A few of the major symptoms of this common running injury include: pain on the lateral side of the knee a mile or two into a run (check!), but no pain on the first step (check!), pain going up and down steps (check!), and tender points over lateral femoral condyle (check!). The pain is caused by the IT Band rubbing on bone over and over during running. This causes inflammation and... you guessed it: pain

There are so many reasons someone can have IT Band Syndrome including types of arches, body structure, over-pronation, uneven leg lengths, and weak muscles. Also, it could just be that the IT band is tight (I'm hoping this is it for me). That's sort of where the doctor (the actual expert) comes in because they can actually pinpoint the cause of the problem. Gotta love doctors and them being so smart!

You might be asking: I might have IT Band Syndrome... what now?

Well, as you can see by the amount of symptoms I have, I am pretty sure I have this condition. Luckily I just started feeling this pain/irritation recently so recovery should be quick. Running Doc and the internet suggest foam rolling the IT band or using the Stick (love this thing), doing stretches, taking anti-inflammatories, cold therapy (aka ice packs), and massages. When the pain is gone, then strengthening begins to prevent this injury from coming back.

 The Stick. Looks so simple, but its a miracle worker. Really wish I invented this.

Well since I'm crazy I'll probably be trying each and every of these things. Often. I'm sure my boyfriend Karl will appreciate me rolling around on the floor on my foam roller all night during American Idol. So attractive. As if watching AI wasn't torture enough for him.

Unfortunately this means I'm going to have to stop running for a few days, probably until Monday to be safe :( To normal people, that doesn't seem like such a big deal.. but for anyone who loves running as much as I do, you know how much that sucks! Its like someone telling you you can't breathe anymore. Except you don't die when you don't run. At least not right away. But I have been trained to understand that health comes first, so I shouldn't cheat and run anyway (as a student in a healthcare field I should probably learn to take the advice I would give to patients and not be such a hypocrite. Blah.). Cross-training it is.

What kinds of running injuries have you had?


  1. Hi. I noticed you signed up on the Running Blog Database. Glad to have you on there.

    Sorry to hear about your IT band (if it turns out your self diagnosis is right :-) ) I've never had to deal with ITB injury, but I just got through rehabbing my hip flexor which took a whole 2 months to go away. You're doing the right thing to be proactive and let it heal.

    1. Thanks! Glad I found the database, it is a great idea to have all the Running Blogs in one place.

      Hopefully my IT Band doesn't take 2 months to heal (crossing my fingers!) but your hip flexor must have been some injury! Glad you are all healed and back to running. Its definitely hard to admit you need to stop for a bit, as I'm sure you know too. Happy running!