Friday, August 14, 2009

IT Band Syndrome

Have you ever suffered from achy knees or hips? You could be one of the millions of people suffering from IT band syndrome and not even know it. IT (Iliotibial band) Syndrome is a common injury to the thigh , generally associated with running, cycling, hiking, or weight lifting (especially squats). I myself, have suffered from IT band syndrome before-- so I know first hand how painful and ANNOYING it can be... especially when you are an avid gym goer, like myself.

The IT band is a thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee and inserting just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running, moving from behind the femur to the front while walking. The continual rubbing of the band combined with the repeated flexion and extension of the knee during running may cause the area to become irritated and inflamed.

What are the symptoms? It hurts! haha! Seriously though, it might vary from a slight stinging to an ache sensation just above the knee or the outside of the knee or on the side of your thigh. It may even get to the point of swelling. THe pain may not be constant, and may only flare up during activity. ITBS is often common in pregnant women as the connective tissues loosen up around your hip joints.

So what should you avoid if you suffer from ITBS? Running, Court sports with lots of lateral movement and Front Squats that put a lot of pressure on the knees should be avoided until you can heal. ITBS is an overuse injury and will go away if you give it the proper time to rest.

What can do you to heal? Ice, rest, compress and elevate. And Stretching properly will help. Massage therapy is also extremely beneficial to ITBS, as is using a foam roller. Another thing that can help I have found is strengthening the muscle imbalance. This is by far the #1 thing that has helped my ITBS go away. WHen you have ITBS, you generally have very strong quads, and very weak hip abductors and hamstrings/glutes. I worked on focusing my workouts on these muscles (reverse lunges, hamstring curls, deadlifts, incline walking, etc) and saw a difference within a couple of weeks. This combined with proper stretching and using the foam roller and I am good to go again :)

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