Where have I been? A Runner’s Hell called IT Band Syndrome Land!
It’s been forever since I have posted on here! Sorry! Don’t you hate flakey blogs? I’ll be better, I swear.
The main reason for my absence is that I have been injured and not running (depressing). My last race was on July 14th, 2012, the Siskiyou Outback 50 Miler and since then I have been limited to 15-20 miles per week because of complications that arose out of the race.
About two weeks after that race I developed a severe case of IT Band Syndrome. It was really odd because I have never dealt with this injury ever in my life. I was out on a run, still recovering from my 50 miler, when I started to feel serious discomfort on the outside lower left corner of my knee, just below the patella. I later found out that this is the insertion point where the IT band attaches to the bone.
The crappy part of it all was that I was scheduled to run a relay race with 11 other dudes the next weekend and they were all counting on me to help them win the race. And honestly, up until that point in my running career I generally scoffed at people who said they weren’t running because of IT band issues because I thought it was something you could just run through. Man, was I wrong!
The pain began on a 12 mile out and back run on a trail I had run a million times. I was forced to walk an agonizing 5 miles back to my car because of course the pain began when I was at the furthest point away from where I started. In a panic I immediately went and bought a foam roller and began a serious ice/foam rolling/rest regimen that I thought would surely clear up this issue. Whenever I heard of someone dealing with IT issues they always talked about foam rolling, so that’s what I did.
After 5 days of trying to recover I did a little tester run 2 days before the relay…not a chance. I experienced a shooting sharp pain just below the patella to the outside of the knee that began to set in about 10-15 minutes into the run. I continued my ice/rolling/rest regimen with tester runs about once a week which all ended is major frustration.
After maybe 2 months of this garbage, depression from not running, and continued disappointment, I finally did what most people would have done after a week…I went and saw a PT. My fiancé, Nikki, who is a pre-PT student will kill me when she reads this but up until this point in my running career I had generally also scoffed at runners going to see physical therapists because I thought they didn’t know anything about running and how could you treat a running problem without being a runner? I also never liked the idea of paying money to figure out my running injuries because I felt like they were self-induced and not worth blowing my money on something that would heal itself over time anyway. This injury was different though…it wasn’t going away and I knew that I needed to seek help or it could have lasted many more months or even years!
I saw a sign posted in the recreation center on the University of Montana campus (oh ya, I have also moved to Missoula, MT since I last posted ☺) that offered 30 minute physical therapy consultations for $15! I wasn’t going to get a better deal than that so I signed up for a time slot and scheduled my very first visit ever to see a PT.
A few days later I arrived at the office with a list of the following symptoms to help in determining my ailment: pain at IT insertion point which onsets 15-20 minutes into all of my runs, pain is heightened and begins earlier in run if running on hills, pain arises when I go to sit down in car. Equipped with that limited information the PT went to work. She manipulated my legs as I laid on a treatment table and seemed to be arising at conclusions in her mind. She then told me she was going to test the strength of my legs. Laying on my back with my leg raised at a 90 degree bend at the knee she told me to hold my leg there and not let her move it. She pushed and pulled and yanked on my right leg and surprisingly she could hardly budge it. She praised me for my superhuman strength as we moved on to the left.
As I flexed my leg and she began to push and pull I was amazed at how I simply could just not resist her strength. The PT smiled and said, “you have a serious muscle strength deficiency in your left leg that is likely causing your IT Band to overwork and become inflamed.” I was stunned by the common sense of it all. She prescribed a variety of exercises and stretches to build muscle in my left leg. She felt that after a few weeks I should be good to go. The stupidity of not seeking help months earlier slapped me in the face.
I began to stretch using the technique very similar to the one shown in this video:
My strength routine consisted of lunges, step-ups, hip abduction/adduction exercises, and 8 minute abs.
Just as the doctor ordered, I was back and running within 2 weeks…pain free.
If you have any more questions on specific exercises or stretches or anything else about IT band syndrome, reply to this post and I’ll try to help.
This injury took me out for over 5 months! I lose sleep thinking about how much earlier I could have gotten back to running had I gone and sought help earlier. But it is what it is…I learned my lesson. I feel like Dudes fall into this trap more often than women but if an injury is keeping you sidelined from doing an activity that you love, go see someone!!! That’s really all there is to it. Your mental sanity and physical health will thank you.
Btw: I hope to post more on here and to get back to racing as soon as I can. Racing and running in beautiful places is what drives me. As long as I can do either of those things, I’ll be running.
Next Post: Running/Racing/Travel plans for 2013.