What treatment would you recommend to prevent IT Band pain?
The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a long ligament-like structure running along the outside of the thigh, formed within the tendons of the gluteus maximus (bum) and tensor fascia latae muscles. ITB pain can occur for many different reasons. Any sudden increase in training intensity whether that increase comes from extra weight, an increase in reps, greater distance or training on uneven ground can lead to knee pain. Issues can also occur due to a variety of poor biomechanics (i.e. when you over pronate).
Whatever the cause your Iliotibial Band becomes too tight and starts to become painful around your knee when it flexes and extends. The sort of good news is that running with ITBS will not do any major damage. Obviously running through the pain will not help you get over the injury but you do not have to stop all together.
Whilst you are getting treatment or using my tips below I advise you try and do what you can. What tends to happen is that the pain might not be around at the start of a run but will start after 20mins. This is not ideal when you are training but at least it is something. When the pain comes stop, go home. Instead of ignoring the pain or waiting for it to get worse I suggest you start stretching the IT Band as much as possible and maybe get a sports massage.
The quicker you enter rehabilitation the quicker you will be back running pain free. Self massage your IT band and 'stretching' of it will help. Additionally, a good sports masseuse will be able to highlight the part of your IT Band that has lumped together and then go to town on it with their elbow. Finally focus on conditioning, when we run our muscles work as a team. So when one muscle is struggling or becomes too tight another muscle will take up more of the work.
When participating in endurance running your ITB tends to be the last team member to take the strain, so if your ITB is tight other muscles will be tight. Apart from getting an all body massage you should look at strengthening your calf and glute muscles. When these muscles become stronger they will start to take up more of the load from the ITB. The important thing to remember is that you need to keep up the stretches because ITBS can return to haunt you in the future.
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