IT Band? Is that why my leg hurts?

Photo Credit Rice University

I along with many runners have been blessed with the dreaded IT band strain. At times, I wish it was my knee joints because I know that through icing it will go away faster. IT bands, on the other hand, do not. I usually get hit with IT Band issues while running in over worn shoes or uneven pavement. And after my marathon in Philadelphia I could barely walk because I had strained it so much by running on the uneven course.

IT Band or Iliotibial Band Syndrome is a tissue that stretches from your pelvis to just below the knee. It is one of the leading causes of knee pain in runners and you can usually tell if you have it because there is a throbbing, stinging sensation on the outside of your knee. What many don’t realize is that the band is crucial to stabilizing the knee while running. Because while you are running the band is being moved back and forth, rubbing it which causes the area to be inflamed.

The pain also usually occurs over time as your foot continuously strikes the ground. My pain usually takes place above the knee where the ITB attaches to the tibia. Many things can cause the ITB to flare up, but it can also be avoided.

  • Try not to run on a banked surface causing the leg to bend inward stretching the band against the femur.
  • warm up or cool down properly with stretching.
  • strengthen the hip abductors and your core

The best way to treat ITBS is with RICE (rest, ice, elevation, and compression) while also foam rolling it out and stretching. If you don’t know what a foam roller is, go to any specialty running store and they can help you out. Also, if this pain doesn’t subside, you can wear bands that go around the leg, right above the knee, to prevent rubbing.

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