February 5, 2016

IT Band Injury and recommended exercises

Running injuries are no fun and the Iliotibial band injury is no exception.  At the Walt Disney World Marathon last month, I walked the last five miles of the race in order to complete it without pain. While I did not know it was an IT band issue at the time,  I was diagnosed the following day by my orthopedic doctor back home who thankfully had a cancellation early Monday morning.  Recovery takes time and luckily cross training can be done as long as you can do it pain free.



The IT band is a ligament that runs from the top of your thigh to your shin.  Because it attaches itself to the knee, this can cause trouble for runners due to overuse, too many miles, stress from running on a track and possibly other reasons. Like me, you initially think that the knee is your problem but it is easily diagnosed as an IT band issue by a medical professional.  If your knee is hurting on the outside, more than likely it is your IT band causing the pain. 

Physical therapy can be very helpful in speeding recovery and after just a few sessions, my IT band was back in pretty good shape.  However, I ended up with bursitis in my opposite hip which is not uncommon.  Clearly I have core strength issues which have caused these problems and working toward strengthening my body should aid with injury prevention and be helpful with training and running future races.

1. The first exercise I was given to improve hip strength and avoid IT band injury is called porta potty squats.  This is a deep squat that you do with a chair directly behind you and a rubber tube around your knees.  The purpose of the rubber tube is to keep your knees from caving in as your body lowers to the near seated position.  Remember not to touch the chair and that is easy when you think it's a race day porta potty, eww!

Don't touch the chair!

2. The second exercise is called the Frankenstein walk. Place a rubber tube between your knees, and then get into a pigeon toe stance.  Take small steps forward and at the same time, pull the band slightly by moving your legs sideways at the same time.  Walk approximately 20 feet, rest and then repeat as you return to your starting position.

3. The third exercise is a variation on the bridge.  Seated on the floor, and leaning back on your elbows with a rubber tube placed between your legs below your knee, raise yourself into a bridge position, then separate your legs slightly and hold that position for five seconds.  Release and repeat this movement 15 times.



4. A modified version of this exercise is the clam shell lift.  Lay on your side with both legs together.  Slowly raise the top leg as far as possible while keeping your ankles together.  repeat 15 times on each side.  As you get stronger with this exercise, you can move to the modified bridge above.


5. Additional exercises to help with core strength that have been incorporated into my every day routine include planks, crunches and wall sits. 

My physical therapy homework is to perform these exercises twice a day as I recover from the IT band problem.  Icing and stretching are very important in the healing process and the pigeon pose has become one of the things I do nightly while watching television.  I try to stay in the pose longer each time as I stretch out those tight muscles in my hips.

The recommended cross training by my PT includes swimming, light biking and the elliptical machine.  Hopefully I will be adding some light running and the rowing machine next week.

As always, please check with your doctor before trying anything new if you are injured.  I am sharing these exercises as several people have asked what I am doing to help gain core strength.
(Pam)

We are linking up with the DC girls Mar, Courtney and Cynthia for the Friday five and this week's topic is fitness!  Check out some of the other interesting blog posts on this subject!




42 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great, informative post! I have ITB issues that pop up about once a year or so ever since high school. I'll have to try those toilet squats!

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    1. I had no idea an IT band injury could be so painful. They are no fun

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  2. These all sound so familiar! Love the cues to do those squats correctly!

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    1. My PT person is hilarious and yes, he has funny names for the exercises.

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  3. Thanks for sharing! I was curious about what you might have to do for PT.

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    1. I'm hoping to get some more exercises next week before I leave for my cruise.

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  4. As you may know the ITBAND injury and hip bursitis is exactly what happened to me and it took more than a year to fully recover. I am glad that you are already on the road to recovery! Even though I am not currently training for anything now I need to continue to do these stretches so this injury doesn't creep back! I mean to do them but sometimes life gets busy and I keep putting it off! No excuses, right? -M

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    1. I did remember that Meranda. I had no idea the IT band injury could be so painful. I'm glad that side has healed but now I need to get rid of the bursitis and muscle problem in my bottom

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  5. Ugh, I've been there. And it blows. But these are all the foundation exercises to get you back on track!

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  6. Thanks for sharing the exercises! Hope you get to run again soon!!!

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    1. Me too Mindy. I am not missing the London Marathon even if I have to walk much of it.

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  7. I haven't had IT band issues but I did have the ever-so-vague runner's knee and had to do similar exercises. I need to get back to using my theraband when I do clamshells for additional resistance!

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    1. Yes, the theraband is very useful for the clamshells.

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  8. I struggle with my IT band. :( It is very frustrating! It seems like everything I try does not help. I'm not giving up, though!

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    1. I think getting the area stronger is the only way to get rid of the problem. Also, I think running form probably plays a key role as well.

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  9. Injuries are no fun! But it's good that you've been officially diagnosed and know what to do to get back to kicking butt on the race course. Wishing you a super speedy recovery!!

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    1. I was happy that there was a diagnosis so I could do something to fix my problem. However, it is a slow process.

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  10. Good for you for being proactive in rehab! Hope you're back on the road soon!

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  11. Great tips. These are different from the ones that I already do. Maybe I'll add yours, too, for an extra dose of strength work!

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    1. Oh I would love to know what is on your list Rachel.

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  12. OMG Porta Potty squat! I love it, wait noooo Eeeeek! Great tips for me and my cranky IT band! I've already incorporated some of these but now they are all in one place! Thanks for that!

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    1. Isn't that name hilarious? However, porta potty squats are great exercise to help with the IT band!

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  13. I tried #3 and #4 when I had ITBS in 2014. Pigeon pose also helped me a lot! I hope yours goes away soon. Mine bugged me for another month or so after I saw the PT, but at least I could run after incorporating the stretches into my daily routine.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I hope my visit to the PT on Monday is my last one after having the bursitis in my hip

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  14. oooh, hope you are feeling better. Injury is no fun. I had some IT band issues and found that strengthening my quads and flutes helped a lot. I did lots of squat jumps and different kinds of squats.

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    1. Squat jumps are a great suggestion too. I might have to add those to my workouts.

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  15. Thanks for sharing the exercises! I hope you have a speedy recovery from your injury and am glad the exercises aer helping some.

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    1. Me too Amy. It is really hard to be on sidetracked from running.

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  16. great post! luckily I don't have ITB issues but my coach has me do some of these exercises for activation before big runs.

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    1. My sister swears by wall sits and maybe that's why her quad muscles are so strong.

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  17. For the longest time I thought I had IT Band issues, but none of my pain went down my leg,it was all concentrated in the buttocks. Instead of the Piriformis being the culprit, I was diagnosed as having Hamstring Tendonitis as well...and both of those issues play off each other. I was glad to finally have an answer, and I did a lot of the same exercises as you in PT, and still do them occasionally, as well as stretching and foam rolling.

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    1. I think lots of stretching and foam rolling are really important for recovery and like you, I plan to do these exercises long after my injury is gone.

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  18. Been there, done that. ITB issues are right up there with PF. I credit yoga with keeping my ITB quiet.

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    1. During my session with my trainer yesterday, he recommended Yoga so I did a Yoga DVD today.

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  19. I visited the PT this week about several issues including ITB. Oddly, they were not concerned with my ITB at all. They say my problems are due to my left hip being weaker (due to a water skiing injury). I'm doing many of the same exercises you are to correct the imbalance. Fingers crossed!

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    1. Interesting that they felt a prior injury was to blame. My left leg is definitely weaker due to being bitten not once but twice by dogs. Ugh!

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  20. These are all great tips! I love the pictures where you show the different exercises as well. It has been a while since I have had IT band issues, but they are no fun at all. I am hosting a new Sunday Fitness & Food Link-up and would love for you to share some of your great posts at www.marathonsandmotivation.com

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    1. Thanks Angela. We generally do not post on Sundays, but I will check out your link up and thanks for the invitation!

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  21. Porta potty squat is awesome! I hope you are able to get back to running soon as well. I've been experiencing knee pain myself but I think it's related to my old shoes. For caution, I'm heading to my PT next week!

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  22. great info!
    Porta potty squat...never heard of that one...need to try that!
    I like the the clam shell lift and with the band...killer but hurts so good!

    -Tamieka @fitballingrunningmom

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