(Excepted from Runner's World) -
Definition: Inflammation and pain on the outside of the knee, where the iliotibial (IT) band (a ligament that runs along the outside of the thigh) is rubbing against the large leg bone, the femur.
Symptoms: A dull ache a mile or two into a run that lingers during the run but disappears soon after you stop. In severe cases, pain can be sharp, and the outside of the knee can be tender or swollen.
Causes: Anything that causes the leg to bend inward, stretching the IT band against the femur, such as bowlegs, overpronation, worn-out running shoes or workouts on downhill or indoor banked surfaces. A tight IT band can contribute to the injury. So can stepping up your training too quickly. Sometimes a single hard workout can cause IT band syndrome.
Self-Treatment: "You usually can't run through IT band pain," says Dr. Apple. "But if you do run, back off. Cut back on speedwork, don't run downhill, and make sure to stretch the band a couple of times a day. The main thing you've got to do is restore the band's flexibility."
IT band stretch: This is the most common and effective IT band stretch. Stand with your right leg crossed in back of your left, and extend your left arm against a wall, pole, chair or other stable object. Lean your weight against the object while pushing your right hip in the opposite direction. Keep your right foot anchored while allowing your left knee to flex. You should feel the stretch in the iliotibial muscle in your right hip and extending down the outside of your right leg.
In addition to doing the IT band stretch, ice the knee for 15 to 20 minutes after running, try self-massage on the area and stretch hamstrings and other leg muscles. You should be back to easy running in two to four weeks.
Medical Treatment: If your IT band problem isn't responding to self-treatment after four weeks, see an orthopedic surgeon. Severe cases may call for a cortisone injection under the band to alleviate pain.
Alternative Exercises: Swimming, pool running, bicycling, rowing, but not stair climbing. "Anything that doesn't put pressure on the outside of the knee is fine," says Dr. Apple.
Preventive Measures: Stretch the IT band (after a workout is best). Stretch and strengthen quadriceps and hamstrings. Warm up well before a run. Avoid hard workouts on cambered roads, downhill surfaces or indoor tracks. Ease into any running program.
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