IT Band Pain & Running: Causes, Exercises, & Treatment

IT Band Pain & Running: Causes, Exercises, & Treatment

March 31, 2021

I had a runner contact me for a telehealth visit who had been training for her first marathon. She had been a collegiate long-distance runner but had never ran a marathon competitively.

Since she hadn’t been competing at the collegiate level anymore, she wasn’t training at near the volume or frequency as she had been in college. Combine that with the fact that she recently started a job as a radiological nurse and had to wear a heavy lead vest for up to 8 hours a day, and you can see how different things had been for her since she last ran long-distance.

A Runner’s IT Band Pain

Her main complaint was that she was experiencing outer knee pain with occasional feelings of numbness and weakness in her leg. She had seen a chiropractor and a different physical therapist who were unable to help resolve her knee pain.

Unfortunately, she was stuck. She wanted to run and compete in her first marathon, but she was unable to train multiple times a week or even run the entire time during her training sessions due to her pain.

Types of Pain/Injuries of Runners

If you’re a runner experiencing pain, you may be experiencing a number of issues. Here are some of the more common ones and why they happen:

IT Band Pain

IT (or itiotibial) band pain is a classic injury runners often deal with that present pain to the outer knee.

Runner’s Knee

Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee is a pain present around the knee, primarily on the front of the knee.

Lateral Meniscus Tear

It is possible for someone to have meniscus tears go undiagnosed as they can sometimes exist without pain. As the knee enters a new training load, the meniscus tear can get aggravated and cause knee pain.

Lower Back/Disk Injury

The L4-S1 nerve roots in the lower back supply power and sensation to the outer leg. If your lower back is injured or you have a disk injury, this can cause pain in the knee as well.

Outer Hamstring

An increased training load can sometimes be too much for the outer (later) hamstring to handle, leading to bruising (tendinopathy) and pain at the tendon,

IT Band Pain Exercises

Ultimately, my telehealth patient’s diagnoses wasn’t as important as her movement issues.

For those dealing with IT band pain (among other runners ailments), it’s important that your body can pass some basic running tests.

Ankle Mobility Test

30 Second Single Leg Balance with Eyes Closed

5x Single Leg Squat with 5 Second Hold

Once we started working on the movements and strength tasks necessary to pass these tests, she started noticing she was no longer having any pain or numbness in her leg at work. Within the next 3 weeks, she was no longer running with any pain. Within 8 weeks of a dedicated rehab program, she was running with no pain and had complete confidence that she could complete her marathon.

Online IT Band Pain Treatment

And she did complete her marathon! Not only did she complete her marathon, but she qualified for the BOSTON MARATHON!

She achieved all of this with 100% online visits. You don’t always need hands on work to overcome your pain. In fact, YOU are the most important aspect of overcoming your pain.

I’d say 90% of the time we must come back to the fundamentals. Once we re-establish fundamental movements and build the strength necessary to perform a desired task, we can overcome pain and reach our goals!

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