Athletes and runners know the difference between good pain and bad pain. A little soreness can be a good thing, but if you feel a sharp shooting pain somewhere in your body, something is likely wrong. One of the most common sources of pain for runners is Iliotibial Band (IT Band) Syndrome.
The IT Band is a thick band of connective tissue that runs down the leg from the glutes to below the knee. If you are experiencing pain on the outside of your knee, you may be suffering from IT Band Syndrome.
* Side note: pain on top of or below the kneecap is typically caused from tight quadriceps and calf muscles. This is not IT Band Syndrome *
When most people experience pain caused by the IT Band, they stop exercising, ice their knees, and stretch the area. This is one way to approach the issue. However, treatment for IT Band Syndrome is most successful with an active recovery. Therefore some isolated strength training is going to be best for recovery and prevention.
The first thing you should do if you believe you have IT Band Syndrome is stop running. For mild cases you only need to stop running for a week or two. More intense cases may require a longer recovery period. However, taking a break from running does not mean you need to be completely sedentary. You should take this time to strengthen your glutes and hips to elevate the pain and prevent future flare-ups.
If you have never experienced IT Band Syndrome before, start taking preventative measures so you never have to. Luckily treatment and prevention programs include the same exercises. The following exercises will help strengthen your hips and glutes, which are likely weak for a majority of people. Sitting constantly and not exercising the glutes enough are what causes this weakness. So let’s rectify the situation!
You will need a mini resistance band to do the following exercises. You can do eachexercise without the band, but to get the most out of each exercise, I recommend using the band.
Use a bench or stability ball to support your back and shoulders. Your feet will be planted on the floor, knees bent ninety degrees and hips lifted in the air. From here, lower your hips down to ground until you are hovering off of the floor. Now lift right back up squeezing your glutes as you lift. Do this exercise with the resistance band wrapped around your thighs and focus on keeping your knees further than hip-width apart the whole time.
Lay one your back with your knees bent, feet planted on the ground, and hips pushing up into the air. Lower your hips to hover off of the ground and then squeeze your butt as you lift back up to start. This one is very similar to the Hip Thrust, but you will likely feel your hamstrings more. Do this exercise with the resistance band looped around you thighs.
Single Leg Glute Bridges
This is the same movement as the regular Glute Bridge, only this time one leg will be lifted off of the ground with the foot pointed towards the ceiling. Isolating one leg at a time will allow you to see if one side of your body is stronger than the other.
Lay on your side with your legs stacked and knees bent ninety degrees. Your heels should be in line with your butt and your knees pushing forward. From here, lift the top knee up and lower back down like a clam shell. Make sure your heels are touching the whole time. Do this exercise with the resistance band wrapped around your thighs.
Banded Side Shuffle
This is a standing exercise. Wrap the resistance band around your ankles and slowly step side to side. You can take several steps in each direction, just make sure you work both sides evenly.