The iliotibial (IT) band runs from the hip to the knee outside the thigh. When you run, the IT band rubs on the side of your femur as your knee bends and stretches. This might irritate you if you increase your mileage too soon, especially if you’re doing a lot of track work or downhill running. ITBS accounts for 12% of all running injuries, with 14% of poll respondents having had it in the previous year.
WHO’S AT RISK?
ITBS can cause overpronation, a leg-length imbalance, and weak hip abductor and gluteal muscles in runners.
“If your hip motion isn’t adequately managed, your IT band will be strained during your running stride, irritating it,” Heiderscheit adds.
CAN YOU RUN THROUGH IT?
ITBS is renowned for being a persistent, nagging injury. If you take a couple of days off and reduce your mileage for a week, you might be able to avoid a full-blown flare-up, according to Dr. Price. If you ignore the initial signs and keep training at your average distance and intensity, you might aggravate it.
Use lateral side steps, side leg lifts, and one-legged squats to strengthen the hip abductors. Before and after your run, use a foam roller to the outside of your thigh and rub your IT band from your knee to your hip. Hiking and bicycling can make ITBS worse. Instead, go for a swim, a pool run, or an elliptical workout.
PREVENT A RELAPSE
Carry on with your workouts and foam rolling. On a track, change directions every few circuits and avoid uphill roads as much as possible, according to Heiderscheit. Shortening your stride so that your weight focuses on the front of the heel or the midfoot when you land will help with IT band difficulties.
“A variation of five to ten percent in stride length may make a big impact,” Heiderscheit explains.
Bolota Asmerom of Oakland, Calif., a two-time Olympian in the 5000 meters, suffered from ITBS after he increased his training to 70 kilometers per week in 1999.
“Massage, strength, and flexibility exercises helped me get relief,” he adds. “Since then, I’ve kept injury-free because I treat every ailment with massage and ice. I also aim to stay away from the track as much as possible.”
Thigh Anxiety: How to Proceed
- Stop: if you get discomfort on the outside of your knee that radiates up and down your leg when walking down a slope or a flight of steps.
- Caution: When twinges on the outside of the knee emerge after 10 minutes after starting a run but go away during a walk break.
- Run: When your outer knee and thigh are fully pain-free, even after circling a track or jogging a very uphill course.