Tuesday, June 23, 2009

IT Band recap

I have to say that the people in the athletic department at Harvard are awesome. Every one of the people I have met and dealt with in the last few weeks have been so amazing-especially the members of the Harvard Athletic training department. They don’t get paid extra money to help “outsiders” with injury advice, yet they jumped at the chance to talk to me about my IT band issue (and diagnose me for that matter) I can’t even begin to thank Gary Geissler, TK Kennedy, Chad Krawiec, and John King. They were all willing to answer every question I threw at them about conditioning, training, strengthening…you get the picture.

I mentioned yesterday that I was advised to stay away from spinning/cycling and yoga until I can get my IT band and quads stretched out enough to feel stable during my runs.  Ironically, many of the moves I was advised to do resembled yoga moves! But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to jump into a yoga class. I’ll just stick with these moves for the next six weeks and see how I feel before I do anything else.

The information I am giving you was given to me through professionals. However, I am not a professional. I had TK take pictures of each move so that I can remember how to perform them and also to share with all of you. I can’t diagnose you, so if you do these move please do them at your own risk. Also, my explanations might be a little elementary so don’t laugh if you’re a physiology and anatomy whiz because that, I am not. This was an amazing experience for me and I am working toward adding these moves into my workout for the next six weeks. (well, six weeks as soon as I buy all the proper equipment) So again, please follow at your own risk! And for God’s sake, BE CAREFUL!!!

OK---back to the good stuff

The very first lesson TK taught me was how to wake up my gluteal amnesia. This move, which resembles the bridge pose, is meant to work your butt muscles. Having weak butt muscles can lead to knee problems because your IT band connects to a band of muscles near your glutes.

The key to this move, TK says, is to make sure your hamstrings are relaxed while you’re in this position.

The next move was very similar to a yoga move (please forgive me for not knowing the actual term for this)
There are a few important steps to positioning yourself for this one.
First, get on all fours.

Tilt your hips all the way up, then all the way down, and then come back to find your neutral zone right in the middle. You want your back to be stable and neutral.

Next, lift your left leg while being sure NOT to tilt your hips! Be sure to keep your hips neutral! Then lift your right arm and make a fist to tighten your back, and be sure to tighten your butt muscles. Hold for a few seconds. Switch sides and repeat 5 times.

The next move I learned is to strengthen the muscle around the inside of your knee. (Which I believe is your Vastus Medialis)

Lean standing straight up against a wall. Slide down the wall until your knees are bent almost to a 90 degree angle (be sure your knees don’t go past your toes!)
Also, it is very important while in this position to keep your toes pointed UP!! (these are my favorite pair of shoes…my old and beat up Sketchers. Don’t knock’em…they’ve seen a lot in these past three years and I can’t bear to get rid of them!)

This is a pretty tough move. I held it for about 10 seconds. Do 3 reps of 10 seconds.

Next is a similar move, but with your toes down and with a ball in between your legs to help strengthen your inner thighs and your quads.


This next move is yet another version of a yoga move – the chair. Squat into a chair position, again making sure your knees do not extend over your knees.

Using the medicine ball adds resistance and also works your arms and shoulders. Hold this move for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.

I also got another lesson on the foam roller. Make sure you cross your non-rolling leg in front of the leg being rolled (I know my explanation skills of this sound very elementary. Bare with me!) And roll all the way from just below the hip (as shown) down to the knee. Do this about three or four times (it will kill but it will work!)

I was also advised to do this move EVERY DAY twice a day: Once in the morning and once at night. And always do it after you work out.


Also on the foam roller, you can work your quads


Now this next move is to work your hamstrings. I was advised to do this on opposite days of the moves mentioned above. It’s a six step bridge pose using a balance ball.

Start out with your back flat on the floor and your legs on the ball, like above.

Next, bring yourself up into bridge pose.

Next, bring yourself into “Super” bridge pose. Squeeze your glutes and push yourself up as far as you can. Hold for 5 seconds.

Bring yourself back to bridge pose, and then back down to the floor as in move one. Repeat 5 times.

On my way home I stopped at a local sports store and purchased a pair of Superfeet as per the advisement of TK. I placed them inside my sneakers and can’t wait to give them a try during my run tomorrow.


Phew! I hope I got everything right!
All in all, TK says since I’ve had this injury for so long (12 years) it will take some time to get things back to normal. But she is very confident that if I start doing these moves regularly that I will feel a difference in time for my race next month! Patience is a virtue, and I don’t expect to be nearly 100% pain free for a while, but until I feel strong enough, I will stay away from spinning and yoga. It will be tough but I will just have to learn to make the pool my next best friend outside of running.

On the advice of TK, AquaJogging in the deep end of the pool is her preferred method of water workout for me. She said swimming is a great cardio workout and if I want to swim it’s perfectly fine, but that AquaJogging is better for those who are training for races because essentially, you’re still running. Jenna over at EatLiveRun actually wrote an article about pool jogging that you can find here.

Let me know if any of you out there suffering with IT band problems try these moves out. If you have any questions or concerns please let me know! Also, let me know if you have success! And as I mentioned before PLEASE BE CAREFUL!! Talk to your doctor if you have any issues. Don’t go hurting yourself on the count of my blog! PLEASE!!  (Can you tell I’m just a little paranoid? Even though I’m not sure how many people are actually reading, I don’t want anyone to get hurt)
My next stop is to buy a foam roller, bathing suit, cap, and goggles. Ugh! Taking care of yourself is not cheap!

And to end on a positive note…I leave you a very sleepy kitty who passed out in mid-play session with me and his mouse toy.


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