Hello! My name is Megan and I blog at RunningTowardThePrize.
I’m excited to be a guest blogger for Heather as she is at the Most Magical Place on Earth! (And also my all-time favorite vacation location!) She has truly been an inspiration and huge help on my running journey!
Like Heather, I have struggled with IT band issues. Since this is something many runners battle with, I’ve decided to show you different exercises that I do to help combat this issue.
First, we’ll start with my story. I ran a little last summer (along with other forms of exercise), and began to have pain on the outside of my left knee.
It actually got to the point where running more than a few steps was not possible. So off to my physical therapist I went, where he informed me that I had one of the tightest IT bands he has ever seen. (Hey, when I do something – I do it well!)
The first exercise he had me do was a stretch on one of the beds. (This can also be done on the couch.) Lay on your side, facing the back of the couch, and let your top leg hang behind your bottom leg. If your leg doesn’t go down very far, it’s a good indication that your IT band is tight.
As you can see, my left IT band is much more tight than my right.
Next is the evil amazing foam roller. (Some days it’s evil, some days it’s amazing.) The first time you do this, you may not be able to stand putting your body weight on the foam roller. If this is the case, have your spouse/friend roll it gently along your IT band while you are laying down on your side.
If you can stand using your body weight, put your hip on the foam roller and roll from your hip to your knee. Be careful not to go on your hip or knee ‘bone’.
It is best to do this not only after a run, but every day. It truly will keep your IT bands loose, which means less pain!
My PT also suggested doing some strengthening exercises, as a tight IT band is not always due to running, but actually due to an imbalance in your hips. Usually the hip rotators need to be stretched out. Another potential issue is an imbalance between your quadriceps and hamstrings.
Here are a few of the exercises he suggested:
Stand on a step with one foot (the other foot will be ‘dangling’ off the step). With the leg that is ‘dangling’, thrust the hip up, and back down.
Hamstring Curls on Stability Ball
Lay on your back and put your heels on a stability ball. Thrust your hips up (into a ‘bridge’) and curl your heels toward your butt, then back out straight.
Moving Squats with Band
Put a band around both thighs. Get into a squat position. Stay in that position while moving sideways to the right (the full length of a room), then go to the left. (This video shows where to position the band)
With your back against a wall, lower into a squat position and stay there.
Runner’s World has a great article showing how to utilize dynamic stretching before and after your run.
Most of all, it is best to make sure that you are listening to your body! If it needs a break, give it one – the last thing you want is to be sidelined for a few weeks (or months) due to an injury. And…the foam roller really IS your friend 😉
QOTD: Have you ever struggled with your IT band? If not, have you dealt with any other fitness related injury? Do you do exercises to help it?
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