Iliotibial band syndrome
The deal: In addition to triathletes and runners, Jill Boorman works with professional baseball players in the off-season, when she sees a lot of ITBS problems. “They’ve just come off playing 162 games where they’ve always been moving forward,” she says. The result is a pelvic instability—tight hips that are lacking lateral mobility, and the IT band pays the price. Runners and triathletes, Koch adds, who spend a lot of time running downhill can be especially vulnerable to developing IT band pain, which can show up on the outside of the knee or at the origin of the IT band in the hip. Also, Hill says, a foot dysfunction can be a sneaky reason for the knee and hip relationship to be off in running.
First aid: “I love ice for this,” says Boorman. Icing can reduce the inflammation and the pain. She also encourages her clients to follow hard runs with swimming to “massage” the legs. Using a foam roller on the legs, massage and ART are also useful.
Prevention: To prevent ITBS problems, Koch teaches his clients exercises that improve lateral hip mobility, like monster walks and clam exercises. He also advises them to adopt a foot strike that is light and fast. “The more time your foot spends on the ground, the more forces the leg has to absorb,” he says. “The less time you’re on the pavement the better.” Hip mobility is the key, but making sure that alignment while running is important, adds Hill. “Have a professional do a video run assessment, work on form and run with experienced runners to model their mechanics.”