Calling ITBS sufferers

I don’t think I have ever felt as sorry for myself as last night, limping home after managing a mere 3 miles before the familiar pain returned. With 5 weeks to go before my 1st marathon I realised my marathon hopes are temporarily over. Having seen a physio who crunched my back, kneaded my legs and stuck needles in my hips, I thought I was on the road to recovery, especially after a 2 week holiday where I didn’t don my running shoes once but did plenty of “pool running” as advised.

So, last night, instead of ticking off another run on my marathon training schedule I sobbed on the phone to my mum, downing a large glass of wine and feeling utterly cr*p.

Does anyone have any good advice on what to do now? Do I just keep resting? If the physio can’t sort it, who do I look to next? Can anyone recommend anyone local to the Aylesbury area?

Any advice much appreciated, or I shall have to find the answers in another bottle of wine!



  • Sorry to hear about your agony Bella.

    I had the same sort of horror as, after no sign of it for ages, the ITBS appeared just before the Edinburgh Marathon this year. I was seeing an osteopath and he showed me some great stretches and manipulated it for me, which really helped.

    It's not necessarily over - mine didn't hurt all the way through the marathon, so you could be lucky too. Keep at it, heed all advice form your physio, and most of all be helps you recover quicker ;¬)

    Good luck xx
  • Lots of ITBS suffers have underlying biomechanical problems and have found orthotics have helped - do you know your underlying cause yet?

    I've been suffering with tight ITBs and also piriformis syndrome. The tightness is much worse on my left side because my left leg is shorter and I also overpronate on my right foot, which doesn't help the right leg.

    I'm supposed to be resting but couldn't ressist going out today and started getting a familiar stretching sensation at the side of my knees so I stopped and walked home - its frustrating.

    Don't give up hope if you have a look at the following thread: Pain in the Knee - legacy of a 22 miler you can read about Holmsie's, Aud's and Jen's experiences of training for this years FLM. Two of them are fellow ITBS suffers and Jen has had a number of injuries.

    You are probably going to have to adapt your training schedule to accomodate your condition with maybe more cross-training and fewer runs. Just think about getting round rather than beating a personal best.

    A pat-strap might help???

    Keep icing, stretching and rest as much as you can.
  • Princess & Edwina

    Many thanks for your replies. It's good to hear from you.
    Princess - can you let me know some of the stretches you were advised to try?
    Edwina - I've read some of Holmsie's thread and got a fair bit of info there. How did you find out the underlying cause? What's a pat-strap?

    Thanks again for the info
  • pat strap - go to Its a compression strap should only be used as a stop gap. Not used onemyself but I know Aud used one for the FLM.

    Underlying cause can vary from individual usually:
    *differences in leg length
    *overtraining i.e. upping your mileage over a short period
    *running on cambered roads

    Did the physio take a look at your feet and posture? Did he/she think you were flat footed or had one leg shorter. If the pain continues or keeps reoccuring you might want to think about consulting a podiatrist for a gait analysis/biomechanical assessment.

    There are lots of different ITB stretches - did your physio not demonstrate any?
  • Hi Edwina - no, my physio didn't give me any stretches to try. He didn't look at my feet, although said I wasn't flat-footed and leg length was the same. I have contacted a podiatrist and think I might splash out on a gait analysis/ biomechanical assesment to get to the root of it. I think it might be overpronation and overtrainig (I upped my mileage a lot for my marathon training) but I'm not an expert!
    It is so frustrating!!!!!
  • I know but try to stay positive its a very common condition amongst runners.

    Your problem might not be biomechanical - are due a shoe change? What type of shoe are you running in?

    I'm no expert as the furthest I've run is 5 miles and I'm very slow but general rule of thumb is not to build your mileage up by no more than 10% a week.

    You could also consider changing your running technique - have you heard of chi-running? I'm currently reading the book.That will take a lot of time so probably best not to try before your marathon.

    I think your strategy for your marathon is got to be about getting round - don't be afraid to walk and try short steps.

    The classic ITB stretch is to cross your leg behind the t'other and lean over to the side from your hip and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. You should also stretch your quads, hamstrings, and glutes as well. Look under the health section on this site for some picutres. I was advised to stretch 4 or 5 times a day.

    Does your ITBS affect both knees? If you do need orthotics (special insoles) you will need to build up to wear them gradually so you probably won't have time to get used to them before your race.

    You will be OK tho.....don't hit the bottle yet save it for the celebration afterwards
  • Bella i didn't do any running for about 6 weeks before FLM this year and the time off my feet paid dividends. OK i had done quite a lot of training up to that point but i was seriously worried about even getting around. if you carry on training then it's a sure fire way of things getting worse not better. Best to not run (i know it's hard) for a couple of weeks, don't panic then review the situation. I know it gutting to get so far into training and then get an injury. when (not if) you do the marathon, you will probably have to review your time. When i did FLM i went from 4:15 to 4:30 to anything sub-5. On the day itself i would have been content to just "get around". If completing it is important - then do it, if a time is important - don't do it, you'll only beat yourself up about what might have been.

    good luck and keep posting your progress.

  • Hello Bella

    Aren't you down to do the New Forest Marathon? If so you won't be the only ITBS sufferer there - I'm doing it and I've had some real problems with ITBS in the last two months.

    I've got around it by having a sports massage on a weekly basis (I'm lucky that I've got afriend who's just qualified) and stretching daily. I've also found that running downhill aggravates it, so I'm sticking to flatter runs to build up my distance.

    The other thing is to take ibuprofen as the anti-infamatory will help reduce any swelling and get a bag of frozen peas to shove on when you get back from a run.

    I also wear an elasticated knee support - everyone tells me won't help but I don't know if it's the placebo effect but I've not had any pain since using it.

    I haven't been able to stick to my programme because of my problems but I'm hoping to get one 20 miler in before tapering. The NFM will be my second marathon this year, so I'm hoping I've still got the miles in my legs.

    The biggest part of doing a marathon is the mental side, so if you're really determined you should be able to get through it, even if you do a run/walk.

    Once NFM is over I'm going to look at getting orthotics made as I've tried just about everything else.

    Let us know how you get on.
  • Hi Bella

    My osteo suggested various stretches that were particular to my 'imbalances' and I'm not sure I'd be able to describe them! I have tight hip flexors, so this was addressed as well.

    Maybe do a Google and find some photos of stretches? I wouldn't want you doing the wrong thing and making it worse!

  • Hi Bella - I am a sufferer of this too and have done 3 marathons with it hovering in the background. Regular 'stripping' by my physio kept it at bay most of the time but I had to keep my training sensible (if you know what I mean)

    1) Changed my shoe type (got a second opinion on my gait and was told I had been in the wrong shoes)

    I read in 'lore of running' by Tim Noakes that often TI band problems can occur due to overly supportive shoes - so I went to a specialist and asked if it would be mad to change to cushioned shoes from my normal supportive ones. She looked at my feet and said in surprise 'but you are neutral already!!!'

    2) Put superfeet insoles in my shoes, these are ready made lightweight orthotics that give a bit of arch support- also discovered my arches had fallen.

    3) and now I chi-run. I went on the chi-running course in dublin, relearnt to run (kind of) and then took 2 weeks off on holiday, came back and have launched right back into my normal running shedule. Apart from being knackered the IT band is fine.

    I also do the modified Thompsn stretch religiously every night though. This one was recommeded by my physio as the best one for me so i keep at it.

    ANyway - don't know if any of this will help you but you certainly have my sympathy - it's a bugger of a problem and so frustrating.
  • Gymbunny - I've heard of Chi running before but still don't know what it is...can you explain? Was it hard to 're-learn' to run?
  • or amazon sell the book. I didn't find it that hard but then again who knows how successful my re-learning has been yet!
  • Hi,
    Cas27 I'm currently reading the book and I'm waiting for the DVD. Basically the book outlines a numbers of focuses such as:
    *posture - trying to remain straight and not slouch
    * leaning - if you want to go faster lean forward but from the ankles so you maintain that straight posture
    *picking up your feet - thats your feet not your knees and midfoot striking not heel striking
    *arm swings - there is quite an effective one to help pull you up hills
    *cadence - 85 -80 steps per minute

    There are others as well - its quite a lot to remember all in one go so the author recommends concentrating on one focus at a time and keep practicing, practicing until it become nearly instinctive.

    In the book they suggest a programme and there a triangle: the most important is good running form then building distance and then lastly speed.

    Interestingly they also recommend a set of 'looseners' for before running. There are a set of exercises to mobilise the joints and some stretches for afterwards.

    I've been trying to concentrate on my posture and picking up my feet as I tend to slouch and drag my feet a little.

    Some of the principles are not disimilar to yoga principles.
  • Lots to take in here, and thank you all for your advice & insights. I've booked to see an osteopath who specialises in sports & podiatry as I feel I need to have my running style looked at properly and make sure I'm wearing the right shoes.
    Haveing missed nearly 3 weeks of running I think mentally I have lost my motivation to run this marathon (Cas - not New Forest, but Anglesey). My problem is I wouldn't be happy with myself if I walked or didn't achieve the time I've set myself. I know I'm being hard on myself, but that's how I am - all or nothing. I like the sound of chi-running especially the yoga-style principles - I love yoga, so will check that out.
    Again, thanks for the advice and reminding me there is light at the end of the ITBS tunnel!
  • Good luck with the osteo and remember keep positive - let us know how you get on.

    If you like yoga try some the postures designed to help open up your hips they'll help with your ITB too. I'm thinking particularly sciatic stretch and forward seated bend. Forward bend is also good for stretching your hamstrings and doward facing dog for your calfs.

    Let us know how you get on.
  • I developed really bad ITBS a few years ago, had to hop down stairs on one leg and all that. My physiotherapist used deep tissue massage (ouch!) over a few weeks, and this one stretch that helped enormously. Now i do it for 5 minutes after every run and haven't had trouble in years! you can do it any time you're warmed up, even just straight out of a hot shower. Here's how to do it (i couldn't find any pics maybe get someone to read it out loud as you move into position?)

    To stretch your left leg:
    -lie on your right side, with your left hand flat on the ground in front of your chest. stick your right arm out behind you, so your head is on the ground.
    - bend your left leg as though you're doing a quad stretch, and bend your right leg too, up to 90 degree angle (your legs should be bent so that you look like you're running, with your right leg forward).
    - okay here's the hard part - grab your left leg with your right hand. Try and keep your hips and knee square. If you can't reach your leg without it hurting too much, you can use a rolled up towel or tubing wrapped around your foot and grab that with your right hand.

    I hope i explained that okay. Its a bit of a pretzel but it worked really well for me. The only other thing to emphasize is good, fresh shoes. I find that I can tell exactly when my shoes are getting old because my knee starts to hurt by then end of a long run.
  • I do a similar stretch that I think is quite effective as I feel the stretch along the majority of my ITB. The others I only tend to feel the stretch at the top near the hip.
  • Erin - I've just tied myself in a knot trying this stretch, but think I've got it now as I can feel it all along ITB. Many thanks.
    I went to my yoga class last night and for any other yoga-ites out there, "Pigeon Pose" really gets to it too!

  • Pigeon-pose never heard of that one before and I can't find it in my book - could you describe it?
  • Oh yes I know it but not got that far in Yoga yet
  • glad you found it, as I wouldn't know how to start describing it! I'm sure Pigeon pose isn't it's official name either! how long have you been yoga-ing?
  • Since March took it up just before I started running - find it incredibly relaxing. My husband goes as well and its done wonders forhis back.

    Our teacher has taken a break for the summer unfortunately and we were such a small class we just hope she comes back.

    I starting a pilates class next month hopefully to held with my core stability.
  • Bella - Had it and it was a nightmare for me - physio kept me going but man it was sore!

    Good luck and I hope that you mend quickly.
  • Jaggy - many thanks, are you pain free now? How long did you see your physio for?

    Edwina - pilates is excellent. I really loved it but had to choose between it and yoga. I hope you like it!
  • Bella - Yes all clear - to be honest mine flared up after completing the Paris marathon this year. I saw the physio twice and did the exercises that they gave me and it cleared up within a few weeks. I have to say that I didn't do much in the way of serious milage during that period but built up to run a half marathon quite quickly again.
  • Bella - have you been to see the osteo yet? I was wondering how you got on?
  • Hi Edwina - no, my appointment is next Tues so will keep you posted. I managed almost 6 miles on Saturday before the pain kicked in, so am a bit more optimistic - i think?!
  • Hi fellow sufferers - a good stretch for this is here and another here the second site also explains the problem reasonably well.

    I was told by my pod that you should only feel the top of the IT Band stretching as that is where it is attached to muscle - it is the muscle you are stretching not the band.

    Staying off the downhills is my biggest tip.
  • I'll agree with PSC on avoiding downhills!

    When mine kicked in again a few weeks back, I had a sports massage to loosen things up then stuck to running on the flat and have got back up to 19 miles last weekend. Decided to brace the hills again last night and - hurrah - five miles with lots of steep downhill and no twinges!
  • Well done Cas. I am beginning to love the hills and am often seen charging UP the hill and walking the downhill bits - that really muddles the opposition up!!! LOL...
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