Friday, February 15, 2008

IT Band Update

Well, I was correct, the IT band is the problem - and from what I understand it can become a very big problem if not taken care of properly.  

Also, from what I understand, this is not the sort of issue where you can just rest it and then the condition significantly improves allowing you get back to your training.  Rest on its own doesn't help much, so a more active recovery methodology is required.  In addition to the standard icing, ibuprofen, and a cut back on running, his will include a great deal of stretching the band (there are a couple of stretches I've found that are very effective), rolling the band out either w/ a foam roller or tennis balls stuffed into a sock, and strengthening the core muscles around the hips.  (hip flexors, adductors, abductors, gluteus medius, Tensor fasciae latae) Up until now, most of my core work has focused on the abdominals, the obliques, the lower back, and the hip flexors (although probably not enough on the hip flexors)  According to what I've read, if the core muscles around the hips are strengthened, the likelihood of developing IT band syndrome is significantly reduced - lesson learned.  Additionally, if I'm going to be able to handle the high volume speed work that will be coming down the line (even if the speed work is not as heavy in 2008, the plan is to be able to handle a much more significant work load leading up to the '09 season) I'm going to have to be much more solid throughout my entire core.  So my core work is going to be greatly expanded going forward - I started today actually.

In regards to cross training, I typically use the stationary bike - but that won't work here.  Reason being, anything that causes the knee to bend  to a large degree can further aggravate the problem by forcing the band to continuously rub against the bone around the outside of the knee.  It turns out the Elliptical Machine is a much better cross trainer for someone w/ IT band syndrome.  (the degree of the knee bend is not nearly as large as the bike)  I used it today for the first time, and although it was awkward at first, I think it's going to be able to do the job.  Zero issues during and after - so I think I've found my cross trainer.  

In terms of "actual running" - I have to be extremely careful not to run w/ any discomfort as the issue can get a lot worse in a hurry.  (this means absolutely NO ibuprofen several hours before a run - can't mask the pain)  I went for a short run on Thursday w/ a few breaks.  The pain typically occurs AFTER the run, so I ran no longer than 1.5 miles before stopping to make sure there were no issues.  The good news here was that w/ the 3 off days prior to the run, the muscles were well rested and the 7:05 pace actually felt like a jog.  I only ran 2.5 miles total, no pain during or after.

Obviously I'm not close to out of the woods here, but I have had no discomfort at all since Tuesday.  By stretching both sides I can clearly feel that my right side is still much tighter, and using "Ober's Test" (which is a quick and easy way to check whether or not you've got IT band syndrome) I can somewhat monitor the progress of my recovery w/o having to "test it" w/ a run that might cause further damage.  I plan on running every other day, nice and easy.  At the point where I can feel that the tightness in the band has subsided and using Ober's Test I feel no difference between my left and right sides, I'll then try to add either a little more pace or distance to a run and see how it goes.  I'm not sure when that will be, I'll just have to keep plugging away w/ the stretching, strengthening, ice etc - run what little I can - and cross train like crazy for a while.  I'm not too concerned about losing fitness right now - as long as I can run a little and cross train a lot I should be OK for a couple weeks.  Where I am concerned is that IT band syndrome is tough to eliminate once you have it - the only thing making me feel better on that front is that after researching the symptoms an such, I definitely have a more mild condition here than most of the cases I've read about.  Hopefully I caught it early enough such that I can recover quickly, but I guess I won't know that for a couple of weeks.

No comments: