Monday, January 03, 2011

A Brief History of My IT Band Problems

For the past several years, I've struggled with extremely tight IT bands that lead to really painful runner's knee.

The first time I ever had problems with my IT Band was about two and a half years ago. I was training for the Baltimore 10 Miler and experienced such sharp pain in my left knee during runs and in that days that followed, that I decided to visit an orthopedic doctor who recommended physical therapy. I ended up on forced rest from running for three months and three times per week physical therapy to work on muscle imbalance and loosening my IT bands.

It was in that round of physical therapy that I learned how to tape my knee to help counteract the effects of a tight IT band.

I spent the new six months rebuilding my running base, focusing on shorter distances, and taping my knee on every run. I made a come back to distance running at the National Half Marathon in D.C. and for the next year or so had no knee or IT Band problems whatsoever. I was able to stop taping my knee and could run with no problem.

I thought I was past IT Band problems, but last winter I had a minor flare up. After one too many treadmill runs, I started experiencing minor pain in my right hip and knee.

This time I decided to invest in a foam roller to help help my IT band loose. A combination of foam rolling and running outside with better form cleared up the problem. I was able to train and race all spring, summer and fall with no problem.

That brings us to the marathon, where I started to experience the knee pain in my right knee. After the race, I rested, foam rolled, cross-trained and did just about everything necessary to help get my IT band back to fighting form. It was going well. I could still feel stiffness in my knee, but nothing some stretching and foam rolling wouldn't cure. I thought I was in the clear.

But last week I had such a painful four mile run that I had to stop and limp my way back home. I'm sure all the people out and about thought something was really wrong with me. I earned a lot of sympathetic looks. That was Wednesday and I haven't run once since then. Instead I've spent my time foam rolling, massaging my IT band, and slathering on Icy Hot.

I'm going to test things out today on a short three miler with my coworker at lunch. I'm extremely nervous, not only for this run, but for my ability to train for the New Orleans Half Marathon. The race is only six weeks away and if I can't run four miles, how am I going to run 13.1?

If today's run goes well, I will continue to train for this half marathon carefully. If it doesn't go well, I'll do a test run later this week with my knee taped to see if that provides any relief.

If you know of something beyond massage, foam rolling and stretching that might help with my IT Bands, I'm all ears.

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