About a few months ago, I went for a 6 mile run along the beach and when I woke up the next day, the outside of my knee was killing me. I had no idea what the problem was. I have never had shin splints, plantar fasciitis, black toenails, or really any injury dealing with running (knock on wood). Thankfully, I have access to many athletic trainers at my university who could help diagnose what exactly was going on. I also did research myself… All leading to the same thing. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS).
The outside of my knee started to hurt. There was a good amount of pain after my run when I woke up the next day. Nothing happened during the initial run. I took a day off and went running again. During the first mile, I had to stop.
I believe my ITBS occurred because I was running on the beach, and the bank was sloped. So my one leg was weirdly angled the whole run. This caused my leg to be turning in, which then lead to ITBS. Also, the track can cause ITBS. Try and change the direction you run around the track because that constant leaning on the one-side may lead to ITBS. Furthermore, make sure your shoes aren’t worn on the inside. Keep your shoes up to date and when they are getting worn, make sure to get a new pair. Don’t fret though, ITBS can occur in beginner runners and avid runners. It means nothing of how you run or your style. It can happen quickly, you just need to know how to prevent it.
What to do:
1. Foam roll: This will be your best friend. Roll out your IT band after you run or do anything. Foam rolling my legs after a long run makes me feel not so dead the next day. It makes a world of difference.
2. Rest: When I developed ITBS, I took 2 weeks off from running. This time will be different for everyone. Listen to your body. If it’s hurting don’t keep going. There are many other things to do other than running. And if you make it worse, it could become chronic, which you then will have to seek medical help.
3. Ice: Even if it’s not hurting, ice your knee where the pain was. This will help prevent ITBS from coming back. When I was resting for 2 weeks, I put ice on for 20 minutes at the end of the day or if I did any cross-training.
4. Warm up: This is so important. After, my 2 weeks were up and I went for my first run, I made sure to walk a half mile before I started running. My body was warm and I had no pain. I continue to make sure to walk at least half a mile before I start my workout, just as a a precaution and it makes my run better.
5. Cool down: At the end of my run, I walk some more. I walk the same distance I warm-up with. This helps my body slowly get my heart rate down and my leg isn’t just shocked with a quick stop.
6. Stretch: This you should just always do. Stretch your legs, arms, make it a habit… Many times we get injured from lack of stretching, I know some people never stretch and never get injured but I still believe it is super important.
7. Cross-train: During my weeks of rest from running, I still biked and played tennis. There’s a lot of different activities you can do, swimming, rowing… there’s so many possibilities. Just make sure it’s not too similar to running like the elliptical, rollerblading, and stair climbing.
Don’t do what I did! Avoid running on an uneven surface. That’s how I developed ITBS and running in the grass vs. the sidewalk/concrete makes a huge difference as well.
Good luck with avoiding this injury and hopefully, if you have it, it will go away soon!