My IT Band recovery has been going pretty well these past few weeks. I have been icing at least once a day, stretching throughout the day, and rolling at least once a day. I’ve also been doing hip and glute strengthening exercises I used to do when I was in PT for my IT Band a few years ago.
The strengthening exercises are definitely the key to keeping this injury from coming back or getting worse. The first one I do is always side-stepping with a theraband. I try to do 10-15 steps in each direction once, take a break, and continue that rotation until my hips are fatigued. When choosing a band color, I started with red (since yellow was too light for me) and am working my way up through blue then eventually to black. This is something every runner should really do throughout their training on a regular basis, just for general strength and injury prevention. It’s amazing how many muscles get neglected when running.
Another exercise I do at least 3 times a week is one-legged squats. The key to successful one-legged squats is to make sure your knee doesn’t tip in as you dip down. If your knee tips in, you’re not strengthening the right muscles and it won’t do you much good. I always stand in front of a mirror when doing them, since it’s very easy to get lazy and tip your knee in without even realizing it. I started with 10 on each side, which was enough to tire me out, and continued to bump it up until I could do two sets of 10. I will continue to up the amount I can do until fatigued until the pain is gone, and plan on doing these to keep my strength up throughout my training.
Other exercises with the theraband include clamshells (for hips) and hip extensions (for hips/glutes). I also try to add in a lot of yoga poses to my stretching routine. A few favorites are half pigeon and runners lunge, but usually I try to just run through a few different sequences, since increasing my flexibility all around certainly won’t hurt my recovery!
I contacted my physical therapist to make sure she didn’t think I had to go in for more sessions, and she was very hopeful it would heal without having to go to PT. She’s confident that I will be able to heal without additional treatment, since she knows I’ve spent a small fortune on physical therapy in the past 3 years.
When my pain first presented, it would be a constant pain during my run after about a half mile. After a week of recovery exercises, the pain didn’t start until about a mile in and was less severe, but still consistently there. After another week, with extra rest (since I was frustrated from how long it was taking) it turned from a steady pain to an occasional, sporadic pain that would go away if I stopped and did some hip stretches. Two weeks ago I went for 2 trail runs with barely any pain – my first trails since I paced Matt at his 50 miler! Today I crushed some stairs at Harvard Stadium with November Project, without any pain during the workout.
I’m excited to get back into the swing of my training plan, even if I have to take it slow the next few weeks and build my base back up. Worst case scenario is that I have to take it easy and not finish my 50k in September. It’s a 10k loop 5 times, so I’m planning on taking it one loop at a time and assess what my body needs. Updates to follow soon!