Now that running season is in full swing, we are starting to see more and more running-related injuries like knee pain, plantar fasciitis and IT Band Syndrome. If you are tired of being on the perpetual hamster wheel of foam rolling your tender IT Band only to have it flare up on you the minute you begin running, read on.
IT Band syndrome implies that the dense piece of soft tissue that runs up the outside of each leg has become too tight. This is misleading. Dense connective tissue like the IT Band does not typically shorten. Rather, it is usually the muscle groups they are connected to that do. So in this hypothetical example, you would want to stretch the Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) and the Gluteus Maximus in order to restore balance in the tension of the IT Band. Go ahead and try it now by doing a runners stretch and lying down supine and bringing your knee to your chest. If you feel the same when you are done (you probably will), then read on.
Chances are, if you are reading this blog post you or someone you know has IT Band Syndrome. And chances are you or someone you know have tried countless times to get that soft tissue to relax with some painful foam rolling or some form of a thera-stick. They just don’t work. In my experience, the issue isn’t even the IT Band in the first place. If it was, the little experiment we just tried would have worked. What is most likely taking place in the sides of your legs is the development of a lot of trigger points in the Vastus Lateralus, the outside most portion of your quad. That muscle is a big piece of meat and the largest of the quadriceps group. Because of the density and size of this muscle, I recommend dry needling. It is a hyper effective means to treat the entire depth of the muscle without the pain usually associated with foam rolling. Yes, you heard me right: dry needling is far less painful than foam rolling.
While treatment of IT Band Syndrome can get a little more complex than just dry needling, this is usually a great place to begin. There is usually a little hip strengthening that goes into this process but a lot of relief can be found with just this treatment alone. If you are dealing with IT Band Syndrome, contact a qualified physical therapist to help you before your next marathon.