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Singapore Marathon Injury Guide – ITB Syndrome

2 October 2011 No Comment


For those of you training for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (or anyone running in any event for that matter), over the next couple of months I’m going to share my thoughts on common injuries you might run into as you build up your training. I’ve recently written a book on this and before that gets published I’m going to leak a few excerpts. I’m going to talk about ITB Syndrome as this is a common injury for those of you stepping up your mileage.

Understanding: Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome is an overuse injury related to excessive tension in the ITB on the outside of your thigh. The ITB is a band of thick connective tissue that forms where the end of the glute max muscle meets one of your hip flexors (tensor fascia latae, or TFL) and runs down to your knee. When it gets too tight it pulls on the outside of your knee and painfully restricts the movement of the knee joint.

Preventing: The ITB can become tight from running on an uneven surface, so check the camber of the roads you are training on. Have a look at the back of your shoes to see one is more worn down then the other; it might be time for a new pair. The main things you should focus on other than that are flexibility in the hip flexors and glutes.

Treating: As the pain comes from inflammation of the end of the ITB, you need to get the inflammation down, and icing or anti-inflammatories are an effective way to do that.

Most practitioners who treat this just do deep tissue/cross friction massage work on the ITB, and anyone who has had that done will tell you how painful it can be. And while it has the effect of making the ITB loose, it doesn’t address why the ITB became tight in the first place. Often people find that it becomes tight again as soon as they resume training. The key is to also look at the mobility of the knee and hip joints.

This is an injury you can do a lot of work on by yourself, so it’s a good one to get, so to speak. First you should see someone to get your hip and knee mobilised, then you can move on to self-massage. Self-massage is easy to do, just put a little oil on the outside of your thigh and rub up and down with the palm of your hand. You can even use a rolling pin if you’re super keen.

Modifying Your Training: Unfortunately you will need to run within the limits of pain, so you may have to cut right back to start. The further you run the more the pain will increase, as pain is generated each time the ITB rubs over the femoral condyle (every time you bend your knee essentially). The length of time you can run will increase as the ITB becomes more flexible. So just run as much as you can run, and keep working on getting it loose around that.

If you have any other questions feel free to drop me a line at chrisjonesosteo@gmail.com. Good luck with your training.

Picture from http://www.finishlinept.com/images/itbs.jpg

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