I is for ITB

Illiotibial bands – or ITBs have been mentioned a number of times before on this blog. However, it’s always good to revisit things as there is pretty much always something more to say.

If you are a runner or a cyclist you may well have had some kind of issue with the Illiotibial Band, the connection of fascia from the hip area down to the knee area. If you have issues either in your hip or in your feet which make your gait somewhat less efficient than normal, the ITB can “tighten” and pain results in the knee area.

It is an affliction which I have seen in a lot of runners, and something which doesn’t necessarily just “go away”. The problem being, if you have ITB pain, most likely it isn’t just an acute pain which has “suddenly” just happened. It will be part of a long-term, overuse issue which needs to be addressed or else the pain will just keep coming back. It is NOT something that you can “just run off” because it is the way in which your body works when you run that creates the pain. That needs to be addressed before the pain will go away.

The key is to remember that there is a reason for the pain. There is a mechanism of injury. It is NOT the result of someone sticking pins in a voodoo doll. It is something that can be fixed. I know a number of people who have had these pains for a long long time, and don’t seem to realise that it is coming from a chronic state of affairs. The main problem is the “diagnosis” of the injury.

Although you can have “ITB syndrome” and the pain is in your knee, that is NOT necessarily where the issue is. You can roll out the ITB all you want, but this is simply addressing the symptom, NOT the cause. Which is where a number of sufferers go wrong.

There are a fair number of reasons for getting ITB related pain, they range from overpronation in the foot, neural issues affecting the leg or hip, muscle mis-firing in the glutes, overly tight hip flexors and extensors, overly tight hip rotators, or a combination of all of these, or potentially something completely different. Yes, that is quite a list, and it is certainly not exhaustive.

The key about all of this is no matter what, there is a reason for the pain and it is very solvable. There is NO REASON, apart from idiocy and sheer bloody mindedness, for someone with ITB pain to continue running and be in pain. Get your glutes massaged, get your hip flexors checked for tightness, have a gait assessment, whatever it takes. If running or cycling is important to you, get it sorted before it completely stops you in your tracks. Rest will help, but once you start running again, you will run in the same style, and the problem is likely to return.

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