One of the most common what I call “avoidable” running injuries that present themselves amongst clients is the dreaded IT Band syndrome. This is essentially irritation of the IT Band that runs from the buttocks-hip area along the lateral side of the keg and attaches to the lateral side of the knee (in lay person’ terms). Most commonly, it is caused by imbalance from the lower back and hips through to the feet combined with a lack of full core bracing whilst running.
In this blog, I will discuss the effect of coffins (running shoes) and a lack of barefoot IT-Band specific exercises on the occurrence of IT Band syndrome. Further, I will list some of the key exercises my Team Over The Top running clients do regularly to prevent said syndrome.
When running in ‘coffins’ of ANY type, your proprioceptive sensors in the feet are automatically shut off. This in turn prevents the running muscles from activating in sequence (calves, hamstrings, gluteals, quadriceps). Your body then gives into the downward force of gravity, causing you to land heavy. The jarring effect reverberates through the ankles, knees, hips and lower back, ultimately causing needless imbalance and irritation of tendons, ligaments and muscles. You do not need to be an exercise physiologist to realize that this is NOT good if your goal is to run safely, efficiently and powerfully. Specifically, this often results in IT Band Syndrome cropping up & becoming an ongoing nuisance to runners.
My Squat-Scoot technique of running tight, light, compact and forward is mainly geared to barefoot. However, if you are disciplined enough to constantly engage the core group of muscles and brace/square up against the downward pull of gravity, you CAN run safely like this in ‘coffins’.
One of the key exercise routines I have my clients do barefoot 2-3 times per week is as follows:
- standing side wall stretches with 1 leg crossed in front of the other, leaning into the wall. Hold stretch for 30 seconds x 4 reps/side
- lying on back – swing 1 leg across the body to outstretched arm, keeping shoulders on ground. Hold for 30 seconds x 4 reps/leg
Use a resistance band for the following exercises:
- lateral leg raises with band around ankles. 30 seconds per leg
- clam shells – lying on your side with knees bent and the band around your knees, lift the top knee as high as possible, keeping the feet together. Lower knee toward other leg but NOT all the way down. Repeat for 30 seconds per leg
- hip thrusts – lying on your back with the band around your knees and feet flat on the floor, thrust up from the hips whilst pushing out against the bands with the knees as far as possible. Hold for 30 seconds x 4 reps
- standing side step – with band around your knees, step 5 paces to the right and then back. Repeat for 60 seconds x 3 reps. You MUST keep the hips square and the body centered over the mid line
- standing external rotations – with band around your knees, lift and externally rotate 1 leg back and away from the body. Repeat for 60 seconds on each leg x 3 reps per leg
- hip hikes – with band around ankles and standing sideways on 1 foot on a step, push out against the band whilst dropping the free leg below the step level, keeping the support leg knee locked. Slowly raise the free leg up to the step level whilst keeping the hips square and the core engaged. 30 seconds of reps per leg x 3 reps per leg
Incorporate these if you are keen to run injury-free or rehabilitate quickly from the dreaded IT-Band Syndrome!!