Recovering from IT Band Syndrome


6 years ago I completed the Jay Mountain Marathon. As my first race it was to be the beginning of my running career. I was hooked and vowed to train harder and get faster.



The hiccup, that I ignored then, and continued to ignore for the next 5 years was the acute pain that developed in my left knee after a run. In fact after the race I did could not walk for a few days without a pitiful limp. The start of every season brought the same symptoms, brought on by over-enthusiasm, and inadequate preparation. Midway through last spring the story took a turn for the worse when the pain became so severe that I could not walk stairs or even climb into bed without cringing.

Since then I have had MRI’s, x-rays, yoga, creams, sprays tried every stretch and exercise imaginable. Having started to take my injury more seriously I have learned a few lessons along the way.

  1. The nagging pain was a consequence of my IT band rubbing against my knee joint, causing irritation and swelling.
  2. IT band problems are really hip problems, before they are knee problems. IT bands are bands of collagen that are as flexible as steel cables. They can stretch over time, but it is a lot easier to gain a little length in the muscles that they attach to in the hip area than it is to gain length over the length of the IT band.
  3. Weak abdominal muscles are often to blame to IT band injuries. Weak cores cause poor running form which can stress the IT band.
  4. If you have had a persistent IT problem, you might not get much from just stretching. Years of over-used will often require physical manipulation (massage) to loosen the muscles again.
  5. Time off, isn’t the solution. At least not in my case. I have taken as much as 8 months off, and had pain days after starting to run again. Taking enough time off for the swelling and irritaion to go down can be helpful, but beyond that, you need a more active approach that involves other sports, massage, stetching and eventually strengthening.

The best advice I got was from Doc Fullem, who aside from being a board certified podiatrist, has run a 14.25 5k. He specializes in running injuries, particularly IT band syndrome. His website has loads of helpful solutions for IT band challenged runners.

My IT band struggles are not quite over, but I am confident for the first time in years that I am making real progress. I think the key for me is going to be a combination of stretching, deep tissue massage, and strengthening.

Hope that help a struggling runner out there somewhere!


11 Responses to “Recovering from IT Band Syndrome”

  1. Luke Nelson Says:

    Zahan, Good to hear you on the mend, you have been missed at many of the races in the area this summer! Thanks for the sound advice as well, massage has also been very helpful for me this summer to keep injuries at bay.

  2. Pete Says:

    Can’t say enough good things about Fullem. If you’re in the NY/CT area there isn’t anyone better to see. A classy doc and a helluva runner.

  3. zahan1 Says:

    on the slow mend, but able to enjoy running again, which is great.

  4. zahan1 Says:

    yes, Fullem has been amazing. That is great to hear to others who have benefited from him too.

  5. pacificfit Says:

    If your knee pain is related to IT Band Friction Syndrome, you should definitely check out the website: . I tried to create a system that was basically exactly what I did to fix my ITBS.

    Good luck.


  6. Novice's Advice Says:

    Running in Nike Free’s cured ITB and PF within weeks for me … no I do ChiRunning also, at least I now can see it coming

  7. Kathleen Lisson Says:

    I had ITBS that hurt in the hip area. I ended up in physical therapy and got custom orthotics that did the trick. Now I run 15K races pain free!

  8. Robert Anderson Says:

    Thanks for the heads up on bullet proof knee pacificfit. I had a sprained acl before and it was due to poor technique and training. Im okay now but the turning point for me was when I started to train smart.

  9. Jamest Lasie Says:

    Your comment about something, i suggest too be it more long as possible.

  10. Interval training Says:

    I hope you are better now

  11. I have upcoming bunion surgery information and hope to heal quickly. Says:

    I have upcoming bunion surgery information and hope to heal quickly….

    […]Recovering from IT Band Syndrome « Adventure Running[…]…

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