- A naturally tight or wide IT band.
- Weak hip muscles such as gluteus medius.
- Over pronation
- Poor foot bio mechanics
- Leg length difference.
- Running on hills or on cambered roads all the time
The IT Band is not a muscle it’s a long flat fascia. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running, as it moves from behind the femur to the front of the femur during activity. The continual rubbing of the band, combined with the repeated flexion and extension of the knee during running may cause the area to become inflamed. If you’re suffering runners knee, (pain on the outside of the knee) or IT Band syndrome look towards a small muscle, that most don’t even know they have, the TFL. The tensor fasciae latae is a hip flexor and abductor muscle, meaning it assists in moving the hip forward and outward. It combines with the tendons of the glute max to form the IT band. Because it’s in a shortened position when we sit, the TFL becomes tight easily, if we are seated for extended periods of time it will become necessary to stretch this bad boy on a regular basis, because a tight TFL will mean additional stress along the IT band.
Most suffering from suspected IT pain will go about massaging the length of their femur with a stick or foam roller. This will have some impact, but because of the makeup of the tissue it will have little permanent effect on the pain. Fascia is rather rubbery so massaging it will warm it up, but will yield the same effect as say rolling a rubber band to try and change it’s composition. Rolling the TFL muscle where the fascia begins, the top of the leg just under the hip complex, is a more effective use of your time. Add in the use of a Resistance Flexibility method to stretch the fascia and you will be well on your way to recovery.
Other things you can do to help:
- Rest and apply cold therapy or ice to reduce any inflammation.
- Avoid downhill running for a while.
- Iliotibial band stretches after training and throughout the day are important.
- Perform foam roller exercises to help stretch the TFL
- Search The Genius of Flexibility to see some thoughts on flexibility and its relation to Fascia. It’s pretty interesting stuff.