Beat the Seven Body Breakdowns

Prevent and recover from the seven most common running injuries

by Christine Aschwanden

IT Band, iliotibial band sybdrome, running inury, prevent running injury
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5. Iliotibial Band Syndrome

This sounds like a psychological condition common in NME-reading teenagers - and feels even more irritating. Your iliotibial (IT) band runs hip-to-knee along the outside of your thigh.

When you run, your knee flexes and extends, which causes it to rub on the side of the femur and cause irritation. Fourteen per cent of RW survey respondents have experienced ITBS in the past year; the complaint makes up 12 per cent of all running injuries.

Are you at risk?
You're vulnerable if you hike up your mileage too quickly, especially if you're doing a lot of track work and downhill running or if you overpronate, have a leg length discrepancy or have weak hip abductors and gluteal muscles. "If your hip motion isn't well controlled, your IT band gets stretched with your running stride, and that can irritate it," says Heiderscheit.

Can you run through it?
ITBS is a stubborn injury. Take a rest day  or two and cut back your mileage for a week, and you could avoid a full-blown    flare-up, Price advises. Ignoring early symptoms and sticking with your usual mileage and intensity can exacerbate it.

Rehab it
Strengthen your hip abductors with side-steps, side leg lifts and single-leg squats. Also use a foam roller before and after running: rest the outside of your thigh on the roller and roll your IT band from knee to hip. Hiking and cycling can aggravate ITBS, so swim, aqua run or use the elliptical trainer.

Prevent a relapse
Continue the exercises and foam rolling. Change directions every few laps while on a track, and limit your hill runs, says Heiderscheit. IT band issues often clear if you can learn to shorten your stride so your weight centres on the front of the heel or the midfoot as you land. "A five to 10 per cent difference in your stride length can make a huge difference," says Heiderscheit.

Elite tip
Olympic 5000m runner Bolota Asmerom had to deal with ITBS when he upped his training to 70 miles a week. "I got relief through massage plus strength and flexibility work," he says. "I've stayed injury-free since because I take care of every ache  with massage and ice. I also avoid doing  too much track running."

Thigh anxiety: How to proceed

Stop running
Pain on the outside of your knee that travels up and down your leg when walking down the stairs.

Run with caution
Pain on the outside of your knee that travels up and down your leg when walking down the stairs.

Go run!
Outer knee and thigh are completely pain-free - even after running on hills or on a track.

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Discuss this article

Ballet foot exercises work really well for the plantar fasciitis.  They sorted my pain right out.  I have also started doing planks which seem to be helping as well.

Posted: 19/08/2011 at 22:52

They forgot the most obvious and common one. The stomach! Affects 1/3 of runners, if previous articles are to believed, and causes inescapable misery that can strike no matter how fit you are, no matter how much training you've done.

Posted: 23/08/2011 at 20:56

Great article! I have stopped running for just on 7 weeks with plantar fasciitis and am desperate to start running again, but still experiencing pain so not in the ''Go run!'' zone just yet...... Kimberlee, are ballet foot excercises just pointing and straightening your toes??

Posted: 23/08/2011 at 23:58

I have been diagnosed with Runner's Knee.  I'm finding it a long and slow rehab process.  I originally stopped running for a month (after attempting a couple of runs and being in pain throughout).  Since then the knee has got better, but it's still very painful after about 5k.  To the point that I can't actually run much further than this at the moment.

I've been given lots of physio and strengthening exercises to do.  Just feel quite depressed at the moment as nothing seems to be helping.  Maybe I want a quick fix and it's not going to be one.  I am signed up for a half marathon in October and really not sure whether to pull out.

Posted: 25/08/2011 at 12:49

Listen to your body.

If you are training for say a marathon or half marathon where the volume of training will require you to run consistently for maybe five days a week you are bound to feel tired either due to overtraining or general fatigue.

There are certain runners who feel that if they miss even a single training session then their fitness will suffer.

Wearing ill fitting shoes or running when feeling unwell due to a heavy cold or such like can result in muscle injury.

Simply over doing it and not listening to your body can result in injuries.

Check your heartrate regularly and if it's abnormally high think of some other form of excercise or even rest.

The secret to successfull running is to remain injury free and with a little sense and listening to your body injury's are not inevitable


Posted: 11/10/2011 at 16:23

what about back pain? i'm always suffering with it post-run, and have tried backward stretches lying on my tummy, but it hasn't helped. and when i lower my legs for 'that' ab exercise i get a clunking sound... i don't really have the time or inclination to start yoga...
Posted: 08/02/2012 at 11:06

Hey not sure if you still use this, but i have the same thing and feeling the exact same way, how are you getting on? did you manage to get rid of it and run your half marathon?
Posted: 22/04/2012 at 19:32

I'm always amazed by how little sports massage is cited in these articles. It's used by every Premier League football team, every professional rugby team, every top athlete and thousands of amateur sports people. It was part of the medical services team at the 2012 Games (250 therapists!) and at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It was in greater demand from athletes than any other therapy------and yet the most common recommendation for soft tissue problems is self applied foam rolling! Yikes! 

Is there any reason your experts seem to largely ignore this key component of soft tissue prehab and rehab? For the record I come from an utterly biased standpoint as Chair of the Sports Massage Association.

Posted: 01/10/2014 at 14:22

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