IT Band Syndrome – Stephanie Bauman

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Stephanie Bauman – @TrainerSteph7

You are out for a 4-mile run, you are about 2 miles into it, when suddenly you feel this sharp pain on the outside of your knee. Not sure what it is, you stop running and try to stretch it out and walk it off. It feels okay so you try to finish your run and again a sharp pain on the outside of your knee. You finally decide to walk back home because you really can’t run back without lots of pain. Once you finally get home (takes a while to walk 2 miles back home) you stretch and put ice on the outside of your knee. You decide it’s best to take a couple days off before you decide to run again. Those two days pass and you decide to try and run. You start out for a run and everything feels fine when all sudden here comes that pain on the outside of your knee. Frustrated and mad, you walk back home. You still are not sure what exactly is going on with your knee. When you walk, it feels fine, but as soon as you try to run the pain is there.

If this sounds like you, then you are not alone. The story above was my very own experience. It’s been about 6 years now since that incident happened. I still wasn’t sure what happened. One doctor told me I tore my meniscus and then I finally went to another doctor and he told me IT Band syndrome. He sent me to physical therapy. While I was at physical therapy they made me do lots of stretches and they massaged my IT band (it was extremely tight). After going to physical therapy for 3 times a week for 4 weeks, I tried to run again. Same thing happened. The pain on the outside of my knee returned. I thought I was supposed to get better. Once again frustrated, the doctor decides to send me to Ohio State to get my running form checked. “Really I’ve been running like this for 10 years and you want me to change how I run?” Still frustrated, I decided to go and see what they said. They ran some test and put me on a treadmill to watch me run. When I run, my knees come in, meaning my hips were weak. Once they told me my hips were weak a light bulb came on.

For 4 years, I was running track and doing the steeple chase at Marietta College. When you do steeplechase you must jump over barriers. So, what did we do all the time is practice hurdle mobility and hip drills. For the past 4 years, my hips were extremely strong because of all the drills. Fast-forward to graduating from college, I stopped doing all those drills, but continued to run. Meaning my hips became very weak. Hence why I got IT band syndrome.

The biggest issue I had with this whole process was when I was in physical therapy they had me stretching and doing massages on my IT band, no strengthening exercises. The problem with our hips is they get very weak from all the sitting we do in our daily lives. They get tight and weak. We must strengthen our hips if we want the IT band syndrome to go away. Once I started to incorporate hip strengthening exercises into my daily routine I became a completely different runner and could run again pain free.

So, what exercises did I do exactly to build my hips back up and run pain free? Below is the list of exercises, the description and how to incorporate them into your daily life.

The best way to incorporate these exercises is to start doing them every other day as your warm up before you work out. If you don’t workout incorporate them before you go to bed or as soon as you wake up in the mornings. Then eventually do them every day Monday through Friday. Again, as your warm up or however you choose to incorporate it.

Clams: Lie on your side with your hips positioned forward and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your ankles together, lift your top knee, opening your legs like a clam; lower and repeat. Repeat on the other side.

Bridges: Lie on your back with your knees pointed up. Raise your hips upward until your pelvis is in line with your torso. Lower and repeat.

Side Steps: Wrap a Thera-Band or comparable exercise band around both legs just above the knees. Bend your knees into a partial squatting position; walk sideways, using the band for extra resistance. Repeat in both directions.

Fire Hydrants: Balance face-down on all fours – knees and hands. Without moving your back, lift one knee up toward your chest; then move that same knee out by bending your hip until the leg is parallel to the ground; finally, kick the raised leg outward until it is straight behind you, in line with your torso.

C Monster walks (backwards): Place a band around both ankles and another around both knees. There should be enough tension that they are tight when your feet are shoulder width apart. To begin, take short steps backwards alternating your left and right foot. Making a C pattern with your foot.

Here is a link to a video of some of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your hips: https://youtu.be/heEgriq1TbA

Now the key is not to only do these exercises for a little bit and then quiet doing them. You need to keep these up or your hips will become weak again and IT band syndrome could pop back up. So, make sure you are consistent with these exercises.

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