Sorry to bust your bubble, but this will not be a post about the music industry's latest "it" band. (I'm not that cool.) Instead, I shall introduce you to an infamous little muscle that starts at the top of your hip bone, passes by your knee joint and ends at the tip of your tibia. Official name? The iliotibial band (which you probably guessed by now), and sometimes the iliotibial band gets irritated.
If you're a runner, the scenario described above may sound familiar. Iliotibial band syndrome is a common issue—but I am not a doctor and therefore cannot officially diagnose your pain (if any). I can, however, share with you what I've learned in my research: that this syndrome occurs when the illiotibial band rubs repeatedly against the tip of the tibia. That it consequently causes pain in the outside of the knee. And finally, that the only way to combat said syndrome is to warm up properly. (Sticking to flat surfaces and keeping up on the condition of your shoes can also help.) Treatment? Rest. Ice. I popped some Tylenol on Friday. (It still hurt, and the Tylenol seemed to take the edge off as an anti-inflammatory is known to do.)
But let's go back to the concept of warming up properly. You'll want to start with a bit of dynamic stretching, followed closely by some static stretches:
1) Walk or run slowly to activate your muscles.
2) Gently swing your legs back and forth, then side to side.
3) Stand with one foot in front of the other, then bend forward and touch (if you can) your toes.
4) Have a seat on the floor, legs stretched out in front of you. Bend one leg over the other, then pull it
as close to your chest as you can.
I've also heard that foam rollers work the IT band, but I don't have any experience with them :-( And it goes without saying (sayin' it anyway) that you should supplement your running with strength training to keep your leg muscles in tip-top, ready-for-anything shape.
In my case, this whole thang was an overuse issue as I hadn't pushed my legs to go that far in a long time. And then I hit the gym on Friday morning for another total body workout, though I did scale back the leg activity because my IT band just wasn't interested. Right now, it feels pretty good—time to enjoy the day!
Question: Do you use a foam roller? If so, any advice for this girl? Does your iliotibial band give you problems? If so, how do you cope?