We’ve heard about it, experienced it, or known someone who has had it. That’s right: IT band problems.
I remember my first major IT band experience. We were in a group run. I had a sudden searing pain in the outer part of my lower thigh near my outer knee. I hobbled and I limped. I knew instantly what it was. I eventually taped it, acupunctured it, rolled it and rehabbed it. And I haven’t had a major problem since. Well, that is until I had another similar issue, but that is a story for another day.
What is the IT band? It stands for iliotibial band or sometimes known as the iliotibial tract. It is a fibrous thickening of tissue that runs longitudinally from the outer part of the hip to the outer part of the knee. We often think of it is as separate band as implied by the name. However, it is a thickening of the tissue covering (fascia) of the thigh muscles. It is used as outer support for the knee in both walking and running which explains why so many runners have problems with it. But cyclists, you shouldn’t feel left out, because it affects many two-wheelers as well.
When the IT band flares up we call it Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). It can irritate the outer hip by pressing on a bursa where the thigh angles out. Or it can affect the outer portion of the knee where another bursa might be affected.
If you are yearning to learn more about the IT band, here’s muscular therapist Erik Dalton’s take on it. Here’s Wikipedia’s info. And Chris Barnes, DC wrote a recent article in Oklahoma Sports and Fitness Magazine.
Here’s one way to elastic tape (Rocktape, Kinesio Tex, KT Tape) the knee portion of the IT band that I’ve used with success. 1. Keep knee straight of affected knee and bring leg across body to tension IT band, tape along the lower portion of the IT band with just the tension off the backing. 2. Sit and bend knee, tear tape backing in middle, give moderate stretch to tape, place a piece at an angle, lay down ends without stretch, repeat with another piece to form an “X.” The x-shape will create more pressure release.
Disclaimer: You may or may not have any of these conditions. Online taping instructions are for information only. You may need to see a healthcare professional. In other words, a simple blog may not reveal your actual problem!
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