ITB Ups and Downs

I am sad to report that I remain injured, more injured even, but wiser. Today I have solved another issue contributing to my Iliotibial Band Syndrome and I hope it is the last.

Over the past 2 week I have been experiencing weird aches and pains on the outside of my left knee cap as a result from my earlier ITB injury. This was a huge surprise since I seemed to be making a routine recovery up to this point. I pulled the hand break on all training that used my tensor fasciae latae (muscle connected to the ITB) and kept up the ITB rolling and stretching. The pain was very irregular, making it all especially scary and I could not find any way to avoid them so to the physio it was!

On Wednesday, Karren (Kumeu Physio) and I made a massive break though. She noticed that there was a slight misalignment of my left knee cap so after a simple taping job to pull my patella back into place she challenged me to go for a run! Initially I was very nervous as my last attempt at the now alien sport of running ending in pain, but 15 minutes later I returned to the physio with a massive grin on my face and not pain around my knee. I was stoked to say the least!

Tension in the ITB pulling the patella laterally

I was ready to slide back into some training again, but after my first run this Monday… NO WAY!!! Now my right ITB (original injury was on my left side) has decided it hates me too. Who even invented the ITB?!

Today I hit the gym with Michael and I think I have cracked it! Over the past 2 weeks my tensor fasciae latae (TFL) on both sides have tightened up something chronic without me noticing. 2 weeks ago I could roll all over them with the ITB roller with no problems at all but now that is way out of the question. I guessing that my body is confused from all the changes in my training and it’s likely it that it hasn’t responded well to the periodic conditioning sessions over the past 3 weeks. As a result my TFLs have gone psycho which is incredibly frustrating but I think this discovery is the end of my suffering. I unleashed my wrath today by doing a solid 30 minutes of massaging and rolling to loosen them up. This was an extremely satisfying stress release and I worked off most of yesterday’s frustration.

Massaging my TFL on a hard medicine ball

Squashing my FTL onto that hard medicine ball ranks very highly in my most painful sessions! But I’ve heard from Michael that the proper massage I’m getting tomorrow will be a whole new level of suffering! But right now I just can’t wait to get running again and will take anything I can get.


An Injured Start to the Year

The start of 2012 has already been pushing me around me around more than I hoped. After a long period of quality base training, earning money and general scheming about the year to come I am under fire from the injury gods.

My first problem began with my use (and evidently overuse) of racing flats on the road. Clompy road running shoes do terrible things to my technique and hurt my knees but racing flats allow me to achieve better technique and they feel so fast! The down side to this concept for me (and for every barefoot and minimalist runner!!!) is that unless you enjoy heel striking your calves run the risk of dying a painful death. For me, the eccentric loading and large range of motion led to slightly aggravated archilles and then after a hilly week in January they gave out. It took 3 weeks to come right, with only a few runs as I exchanged most running sessions for cycling or aqua jogging. In this time I got into a lot of icing, more stretching than usual and once mostly recovered I started with the calf raises to help strengthen and prevent re-occurrence.

My low profile racing flats - awesome until you run in them too often

My second recent injury has really put me out of action and is by far the worst injury I have experienced. 4 weeks ago I felt some pains on the outside of my left knee which was quickly determined to be my iliotibial band. 3 days later at Sprint the Bay I raced Stage 1 and 2 with only some small discomfort warming down after race 2. At 10pm that night I couldn’t walk without being in some quite intense pain on the side of my left knee. I tried to race Stage 3 the next morning but was in too much so pulled out. I could feel a sensation like sandpaper rubbing on sandpaper where my ITB attaches into the side of my knee.

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The band is a superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis to just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee while running but the continual rubbing of the band over the knee joint, combined with the repeated flexion and extension may cause the area to become inflamed. This doesn’t directly affect your running but the pain is very intense!

Anatomy of ITB syndrome

I have been using a hard foam roller (as a form of massaging) and stretching to help reduce tension in the band and have been icing regularly to help reduce any inflammation. It seems to be almost recovered and I am putting emphasis into strengthening exercises for my glutes as a method of prevention – and for the general benefit of my running. I have also had various people giving me great advice (thanks Tom Reynolds for giving me a thorough rundown  this afternoon) and will also see a physio next week for some final reassurance (I hope) before start running again.