When I crossed the finish line at the Oxford Half Marathon in October 2015 and couldn’t bend my leg, I knew the foam roller alone was not going to aid my ITB syndrome recovery. I have lost count of the amount of webpages claiming to be the definitive guide to ITB syndrome recovery. I would try their suggestions, yet they still would make little to no difference the next time I donned my trainers.
I’m not for a minute saying they are lying. ITB syndrome or runners knee is incredibly common with runners. More so with people who are new to running. There is a reason for that – the muscles needed for running are not strong enough.
Your Iliotibial Band is a large mass of fascia which runs down the side of your leg. At the top, it is connected to your glute (bum) muscles & the TFL which is at the front of your hip. At the bottom, it is attached to your tibia (bone running down the front of your shin). If you have weakness in your glute muscles and run, your ITB band will try and compensate. After a while, the friction will be so much so, it will cause you pain on the outside of your knee, possibly the top of your tibia and likely your TFL.
For me, the root cause was glute weakness, which caused my leg to cross over and my knee turn in when my foot hit the ground.
I found this out by seeing a sports therapist. Someone who watched me do a running action up a flight of stairs. Within the first two steps, he showed me how my leg crossed over and taught me how to correct it. Now I make a big effort to make sure my right leg hits the ground in the correct place and my knee is turned out…. it’s beginning to feel more natural and I can tell very quickly if my form has slipped, as the pain returns.
He also gave me strengthening exercises for my glutes and hips. My glutes will help me to keep my leg in position. It’s much for efficent to run using your glutes instead of your hamstrings. The glute muscle is larger and can power you along to your next PB.
My ITB recovery exercise routine is as follows:
Strength Training – Jav’s Routine (BACK STRAIGHT)
(3 times a week)
Squats – butt back and down, lifting arms straight up above the head so stretching the armpits – 30 seconds
Lunges – only down a little way so keeping knee out, swing arms in sweeping motion.
Dynamic ITB Stretch: ITB banana stretch fast
Mountain Climbers: 30 seconds
EXERCISES – 30 to 45 second break inbetween:
Two sets of each:
Plank – shoulders relaxed, tailbone under, tummy button pulled up – until shake
Side plank – bent arm – tailbone under legs stacked, tummy button in. Both sides
Ketttlebell Squats – kettlebell held with both hands on chest – bum down to 90° thrust up. Knees out, toes down, feet hip width – 30 seconds
Kettlebell Squats – Kettlebell held with both hands. Opposite foot touch and back to eye height. Feet at 45° angle. Bum down to 90° angle – 30 seconds
Kettlebell Squats – One hand kettlebell swing, swap at top – feet hip width apart. Bum down -30 seconds
Russian twists with small weight – lean back, spine straight, head and neck up – 30 second
Mountain Climbers – Long strides, butt down, quick fire thrust action – 30 seconds
Single Leg Dips – 8-12 reps on each leg
Glute Bridge – roll up and down 10 times then one leg and hold for 10 secs, swap legs
Runners Yoga routine – for stretches (downward dog, lunge pushing into heel, kneeling quad stretch, hip flexor stretch, pigeon pose (repeat other leg) lying glute stretch, standing ITB banana stretch)
Foam roller – slowly 2 mins per leg inside quad too
This routine isn’t likely to be completely right for you. I think that is my point with this post. Everyone who has suffered runners knee is likely to have a different root cause (which is probably a pain in the bum, but could be hip alingment!)
My advice, see a physio, have a sports massage and book an appointment with a sports therapist who runs! They know their stuff and can save you tears and moments where you just want to give up.
If you live near Bicester in Oxfordshire. Check out Pea Green – they are fab!