Finally Solved My Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome After 8 Years
It took me 8 or even more years to solve my iliotibial band syndrome. The usually described exercises simply did not do it for me in the long run.
This article describes what finally worked and what did not.
The problem: many years ago when running I started to get a sudden pain below the kneecap, to the front and outside the knee (not the kneecap, that's something else). It quickly developed such that when I run I could be sure that precisely after 25-30min the pain occurred and I had to stop exercising.
First step and it worked somewhat:
- Physiotherapy that massaged and relaxed my legs and buttocks. Some of my leg and especially buttock muscles were tight.
- The doctor prescribed me stretching exercises. I also got additional exercises from the internet. I did 15min of stretching each day for about 2 months.
The result was that I could run around 45 min, which was a 50% improvement. The time invested to get these results was huge.
As I was not getting the results I wanted, I tried to use helping devices:
- using ITB-Bands that strap onto leg and put pressure on the ITB
Both taping and the bands did not have any effect.
I also got new running shoes that fit my feet better. It helped a bit.
I was getting small results despite all my efforts. I stopped doing the stretching exercises and also did not renew my therapy prescription. As a result the pain now started to occur around 35min again.
The next 4 years I reduced my running to around 30min and did nothing any more, as I did not know what to try any more.
Then a friend recommended the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall to me, which I read. It is about barefoot running.
- I ordered barefoot running sandals (xeroshoes.com, DIY Feeltrue Sandal Kit).
- I changed my running style towards forefoot striking. I used to be a heel striker.
- Here are the best YouTube videos I watched:
- Pay special attention to the slight forward lean from the ankles (and not the waist)!
The result came quite fast. After running around 2-3 months (once a week) with the barefoot sandals and having adjusted my running technique, I could run up to around 45-50min before the pain set in.
I was content with that and did not know how to further improve my ITB syndrome. I was happy that I could now run as much as I wanted (I did not want to run longer than 55min anyway). And this was without any stretching exercises or therapy!
Around 4 years passed that I did not pay special attention to it any more, since the syndrome was not limiting me any more, but it still showed up around 55-60min, although only to a lesser extend (less pain if it occurred).
After the mentioned 4 years I got interested again and looked at YouTube again. This time I could also understand much more of the fine running technique details described.
- Here is a very good movie with many details on barefoot running technique:
- I started to fine tune my running technique much more.
The adjustments that made the most difference are (immediate effect when having pain while running and implementing them on the spot)
- The forward energy comes from my buttock muscles. It is like gliding or similar to when pushing a heavy object.
- My feet stay longer on the ground
- After my feet are lifted, they kind of swing up behind me
Some changes that also happened:
- My right leg used to be slightly rotated to the outside. I thought it is a natural building mistake of my body and that it will always be a liability for me and I will always have to consciously correct it. But that is gone now, after having paid attention to it for some years. I think I know were it came from: my dad had leg surgery and his right leg is rotated to the outside. I probably copied that as a child as proper walking technique and it was natural to me. I now know, it was a controlling mistake of my leg and nothing physically given.
- I do not have any tight muscles any more in my legs or buttocks. I also adjusted my regular walking technique (book: 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back by Esther Gokhale).
My ITB syndrome is completely gone now. I can run longer than 60min and I do not get even the slightest warning, that the pain could occur some minutes down the road.
What also might have helped, but I am not sure: sleeping on the floor occasionally. It stretches some muscles in the leg, buttock, and back. I started doing it around the same time when my ITB improved.
I currently do not have any iliotibial band syndrome any more, after a journey that lasted around 8 years. Finally!