IT Band Recovery
First thing you need is information. You should determine if your injury is actually an issue related to your IT Band. This article isn’t for that. So if you are researching your symptoms, I would suggest getting a functional assessment from a trained professional, such as a physiotherapist. The knowledge you will gain from even 1 consultation is worth more than a 100 hours of self diagnosing online.
What You Need
The following items can be picked up at any big box retailer, local fitness shop or the convenient Amazon.com. I personally went to Walmart and found it to be the same price as online, plus I got immediate the gratification of leaving the store with it.
- Foam Roller
- Latex Resistance Bands
- Ice, Ibuprofen and Time
- TOTAL was under $40 for everything (unless you factor for time = money)
Looking for a Cure
Probably like many of you, I scoured the internet for guaranteed ways to cure an IT band injury. The one thing I kept reading was how foam rolling was the quickest and easiest solution for most people. “Just foam roll 3 times a day, and you’ll be saved!”, I would read and have hope of being a runner again. FALSE! While foam rolling is highly beneficial, it may not be the only thing you need to get back to running longer distances. For many like me, it will require strengthening core muscles for the hips and yo booty as well!
The general consensus is that people with weak abductors, adductors, hip flexors and glutes are highly susceptible to this injury. You should also take into consideration the mechanics of your stride, as heel striking and over/under pronating could amplify the stress you are putting on your body with each step. Again, go see a professional about this. Most running stores have a treadmill with cameras that can analyze your stride.
IT Band Rehab Routine
- Relax – If your IT band hurts just walking down the stairs, then you’re not ready to hit the pavement. Taking time off running is probably the hardest part of the rehab program. Make sure to ice it and take ibuprofen (anti inflammatory) if you are currently limping.
- Stretch – There are hundreds of ways to stretch your legs. Try a bunch and keep the ones that work for you. Make sure to hit all the muscle groups though (quads, hamstrings, groin, hips and calves)
- Roll – Foam roll up and down the leg, but not past the knee. Get the hips and glutes too. Hurts at first, but feels great once you get the hang of it.
- Strengthen – Below is a list of exercises you can do with your resistance bands to work on strengthening. This is the most important part of rehabilitation for rebuilding yourself stronger and faster than you were before getting sidelined.
For all of these exercises, start with 20 reps on each side without using the resistance bands. Focus on keeping a good, consistent form. Once you feel in control, add the resistance bands into the mix, and start at 20 or 30 reps for each side. I went overboard and did these exercises every day for a week straight. I would recommend doing more reps and then giving a day or 2 rest in between to let the muscles recover and get stronger.
There are other exercises you can try, but be cautious with the ones that have your entire weight involved, such as the pistol squat.
Getting Back on Pace
After a couple weeks of strengthening, you should try going for a little test run. I have found walking down a flight of stairs to be a good indicator if the IT band will be too troublesome for a run. Remember to take it easy, and slow down. Focus on the placement of your step, and try to feel the muscles you have been working on. I ran for years, and never felt my hips propelling me until now. My glutes were like a locomotive the first time I went back on a hill workout.
I think you’ll find the same is true for you after a few weeks of serious rehabilitation. Your pace will be slow for a little while, but keep up with the strengthening routine as you increase your mileage. Tempo runs are also great workouts during this phase, and can serve as a reminder to start by focusing on using your hips, glutes and even the placement of each step.