Jeff suffered from IT Band Syndrome when he ran but managed to cure it with these stretches.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome can cause horrible knee pain and is very common in runners. But just because you get need pain doesn't mean you should give up running. After trying many different methods the following procedure is how I finally defeated my Iliotibial Band Syndrome and overcame the associated knee pain. If you are experiencing iliotibial band syndrome follow these steps, do the stretches, and I think you'll be pleased with the results.
1. Stop Running (For Now)
Do not try to run through the pain. This will only make things worse. You need to let your body rest for a while. This can be very frustrating if you are trying to train for an upcoming race, but you need to remember that you could really hurt yourself if you don't take care of your knees.
I rested for a couple of months. I wasn't planning on taking that long of a break, but I conveniently sprained my ankle during that time also.
2. Get New Shoes
Running in old worn out shoes can cause IT Band Syndrome, or make it worse. Have a look at your shoes and consider their condition. How long have you been running in them? Good quality shoes will last a few years but cheaper ones will need to be replaced more often. If the soles are worn down and they are almost falling apart the upgrade will be well worth the money.
3. Stretch Every Morning
A week or two before you plan to start training again you should begin by stretching every morning and doing some simple exercises. This will help to get your legs into good condition, as well as strengthen your gluteus medius, which has been shown to assist with correcting IT Band Syndrome.
I perform some simple stretches and exercises every morning. These take me about thirty minutes but are well worth the time. Each stretch should be held for ninety seconds. I use a countdown timer on my phone to keep track of this. The following stretches are a combination of recommendations from a personal trainer and others I have found useful from the running chapter of Tim Ferris's book, The 4-Hour Body.
- Put your right knee on the table with your leg bent, lean forward as far as you can. Then do a similar thing, but lean more towards the right, around the two o'clock position, and again on the left at around about 10 o'clock. Then do the same with your left leg on the table. Remember to hold each of these six positions for ninety seconds.
- Put your right foot on the table, with your leg bent so that your knee is sticking up in the air near your head. Lean as far forward as you can, with your body just to the left of your leg. Next use your right hand to push your knee away from your body, as you turn your body to the left. Repeat with your left leg.
- Kneel on the ground on one knee, you might want to put your back knee on a folded towel or pillow for comfort, then put your back foot up behind you and prop it up on a couch or chair. Do with both legs.
- Lie on the floor on your side, with your legs lying on top of each other. Bend your knees about ninety degrees but stick them out in front of your body so that your feet are still in line with your torso. Keep your feet touching but lift your top knee up, and pivot your leg so that your legs look like a clam shell opening and closing. Repeat this fifteen times on each side for three cycles.
- Stand sideways on a step so that one of your feet is hanging over the edge and not touching the ground. Without bending your knees lower the hanging foot below the other and then bring it up higher than the other. Again do 3 sets of fifteen repetitions on each side.
After you complete these stretches and exercises your legs will be quite sore, though you shouldn't be feeling any of your knee pain, just that soreness that you get after a workout.
4. Start Running Gently
Once you have your new shoes, have rested long enough for the pain to fade away and started stretching regularly, the only thing left to do is to start running again. Remember to take it easy at first, even without your knee pain you will probably have lost some fitness over your training break so don't try and push yourself too hard. It might be best to reconsider your running route and maybe shorten it.
Most importantly if you feel the pain return when you are running stop immediately, running through the pain is only going to make it worse, and take longer to go away. Go home and ice your knee. You might need to take some more time off to focus on the stretches and exercises for a bit longer.
5. Be Patient
After a lot of trial and error, it was following this plan which finally got me to overcome my Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Taking it slow can be one of the hardest things when you are used to moving around all the time, but it really is key to fixing this problem long term. I hope you find this treatment plan as useful and successful as I did, and that you can soon be running many miles injury free.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Jeff Thomson
Jesse Custer on December 28, 2014:
Thanks for posting Jeff and it's good to hear a success story in the fight against the dreaded ITBS.
There's a lot of discussion currently as to whether Foam Rolling the IT Band will actually do more harm then good. The problem (as I read it) is that the Band is made from Type-III collagen and it requires at least 26N of direct, transderable force to make a dent in it. It is doubtful if foam rolling is able to achieve this! I discuss this with links to the scientific research here: http://www.howtostretchitband.com/it-band-rolling/
Chelsea on March 31, 2014:
My doctor recommended a golf ball muscle roller for my ITBS, surprisingly worked very well, check it out!! http://zzathletics.com/Golf-Ball-Muscle-Roller-Mas...
Jeff Thomson (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 09, 2013:
I've heard foam rollers are good, not something I've been able to try out myself though.
anndango on March 09, 2013:
I've had IT Band problems, too and the stretches and exercises you suggest do work. Foam roller is good too!