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Friday, January 18, 2008

Dealing with ITBS

ITBS is IT Band Syndrome, and it's very common in runners. The pain is usually on the outside of your knee. It's caused either by overuse or biomechanical problems (ie. bad shoes, etc).

This is what worked for me. I'm not a medical professional, you should consult one before doing anything, as well as to troubleshoot the cause of your problems!

Don't Run in Pain

Don't try to run through it. If it hurts, stop. Immediately. Every little bit you run with the IT rubbing the knee does damage, and it can take weeks and weeks to get better. In my case, I ran in a duathlon while it was a problem, it hurt for the last 2.5k run and that set me back about 6-8 more weeks. Bad idea.

I had excellent luck with cycling, no pain even when my ITBS was at its worst. There's also swimming, or running in the pool (less impact). I took a complete break from running... other people are able to keep running short distances pain-free, but the key is to stop before the pain starts.

Ice and Ibuprofen

... for when it hurts.


I have had the most luck with this one... you really need to feel it on the outside of your leg, if you don't then move your torso forward (from the waist up) once you're bent over.

Even when I'm not having ITBS problems I do this stretch for prevention.


Buy a pool noodle, lie on it, and roll with all your weight resting on the noodle. Roll from the hip to the knee, slowly, and if you get to a point where it hurts stop and take the pain. Yes, this hurts, especially if your case is acute, but it helps get that IT band loose. I still do this when it starts feeling tight on me, seems to help a lot.

Slow Return to Running

For me, I had to start almost from scratch... 2K run-walks. It was ugly, but whenever I tried to do more it would flare back up. I maintained my fitness through cycling, and now I'm back to my normal running and distances.

The key word is patience.


Anonymous said...

Reading your story was almost eery for me. I am almost 45 years old. I too am training for a May marathon. (I think it will be Ottawa.) Two years ago, I tipped the scales at 218. Now I'm down to 193 (new digital scale too!)

I ran 5 or 6 kms daily last fall. Since New Years I have been trying to follow a marathon training plan I created with help from several internet sources. I am now up to 14 km long runs, with shorter runs (5-10 km) 4 days a week. This week is my first "easy" week - just 10 km for my long run. I am also going to start with some interval and speed training this week to put some variety in my schedule.

I live north of Toronto, which means that my runs are hill runs whether I like it or not. I also hunt for softer surfaces (dirt, grass or snow) to save my knees.

My biggest concern at this time is that May might be too early. It's only 4 months but I don't want to wait until fall.

I will be interested to follow your progress this winter.

Jon P said...

Hey snowman... good to hear from you! Nice weight loss. :)

Have you run any other races yet? I was told to run more halfs before I tried the full marathon, but like you I don't like waiting. I've only ever done one 1/2, will have one more this Feb before (hopefully) attempting the May marathon.

14K is good, if you follow the 10% per week maximum you should still be able to get there. I'm at 20K right now, but I have extra rest weeks for the 1/2 marathon I'm doing in Feb and the 30K in March.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I am also planning to do the Peterboro half marathon on February 24. Rather than tapering down to it as a race, I just plan to take one extra day off and do it instead of the 20 km long run scheduled for that week anyway. Is that a problem?

Another question - is moving your long run day around a problem? I am busy with work, so I am using Sunday or Monday or Tuesday for the long run. Any comments?

Jon P said...

I'm not tapering that much for the 1/2, just doing a 15k the week before It actually fits in to when I'd do a rest week anyway.

I move my LSD around a lot too, I read somewhere that you want at least 5 days between them. So if you were supposed to do it Sunday and you do it Friday, that's OK, but don't do it Thursday.

Anonymous said...

Have you had a look at the PattStrap? It is a band that goes above your knee and has stopped all my ITBS pain to date. I use it along with the foam roller.. strap during the run, rolling before and after.

The pattstrap is worth a google search..
Good luck