IT Band Running Injury: How to Recover
On one of my recent blog posts, one commenter suggested I write a post on how to recover (and train) with an IT Band Running Injury. Honestly, this was a great recommendation. I suffered a tough IT Band Running injury in March of 2018. I had recently completed my first marathon in January – the Disney World Marathon – and was just starting to get back into running after taking February easy. My first race back was a half marathon. After crossing the finish line, I instantly knew something was wrong and it took me 2+ months for the IT Band issue to recover.
IT Band – What is it?
Commonly known as Iliotibial Band Syndrome, it is an “overuse injury causing pain on the outside part of the knee especially during running when the heel strikes the ground.” (Medicine Net). If you believe you have an IT Band Injury, conduct some additional research to determine if it’s IT Band or something similar. In my case, I researched online to determine the issue.
Here are my top 6 recommendations to recover from an IT Band Running Injury (in no particular order). Please keep in mind that I’m not a licensed doctor or physical therapist. This is strictly based on my personal experience and what worked for me.
1.) REST – Take Time Off
It can be really hard to give ourselves a break from running. We all have races and training schedules and no one likes to get behind. However, when it comes to running and our bodies, always play the long-term game. I struggle with this a lot because it’s easy to think of the short term. For me, I barely trained for a few weeks. I did have a few races during this stretch, which I hobbled through them. Based on the severity, take a week or two off running and then reevaluate to see how your body feels. Patience is key here.
2.) SHOES – Get a Gait Analysis
If you’re pounding the miles, it’s important that you have the right running shoe with you every step of the way. The pair of Nikes that I initially wore the first few years of training were not good for me. In fact, after long distance runs, it was not uncommon for me to get huge blisters on my arches. Not knowing any better, I assumed it came with the territory. It doesn’t have to be this way. After the IT Band injury, I went to my local running store and had a gait analysis conducted.
During a gait analysis, they watch and film you running on their store treadmill to see your overall form. Based on your form, they recommend a pair of running shoes that will be a good fit for stability and support. I ended up with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 2018s – one of the better shoes on the market for support and stability. I ran in the Brooks Adrenaline shoes for about a full year until just recently swapping back to a quality pair of Nikes.
3.) BRACES & KT TAPE – Add Support
As an added layer of support, use a knee brace/sleeve or KT Tape to keep everything secure and for overall peace of mind while running.
4.) RUNNING FORM & POSTURE – Be Aware and Try to Improve It
This is a big one. I’ll be the first to admit that my running form isn’t anywhere near perfect. When I first started running, I didn’t consider form. However, after the injury, I became aware of proper running technique and what it entails. I’m still learning and I haven’t changed as much as I’d like with my running form. It’s not easy.
If you are a heel striker, you are putting extra strain on your IT Band/Knee Joints. Pare that with overuse and you get IT Band issues. I’m now a lot more cognizant of heel striking and try to land parallel to the ground. My form isn’t great, but it’s better than what it was before.
5.) STRETCH & FOAM ROLL – Actively Work on Recovery
I recommend Googling multiple exercises for IT Band Recovery. Personally, I spoke to a friend in the Physical Therapy field. My friend gave me multiple exercises to help recover. There’s no specific stretch that made me feel better, so I would try several on your own to see what feels best for you.
6.) ICE IT – Post Run
I’ve found it very helpful to ice my knees after long training runs. Personally, I recover faster and have less injuries when I go this route. I use a Neoprene Wrap with a gel pack. I always keep the gel pack in the freezer and input it into the wrap when I use it. If you’re having an ongoing issue, I’d recommend doing this.
These are my top 6 recommendations on how to recover from an IT Band Running Injury. Of course, if it’s not healing on its own, please consult a doctor and physical therapist on next steps. If you have specific questions or comments, feel free to comment below or send me an email.