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IT Band Syndrome

Vonda Wright, MD

The IT band is a tight band of tissue that connects your rear end to your knee and when it’s too tight it can literally cause a friction rub either at the top of your hip or down where your knee is, and that can literally stop your running. One of the most common overuse injuries is IT band syndrome, or hip bursitis.  People will come into us at the Center for Sports Medicine saying oh my hip hurts, but when they point to where it hurts it’s directly on the side of their leg.

Bursitis Symptoms

When people come in with IT band syndrome or hip bursitis their hip feels hot and red, it’s sore to the touch right on the side of the bone that they can feel on the side of their hip, or they have a literal clicking or rubbing feeling on the side of their knee. It’s very painful, it’s increased pain with activity so the more you run the more it hurts.    

Prevention Exercises

The way a runner can prevent IT band syndrome and treat it is by strengthening their rear end, which is responsible for slowing down every single step we take, and lengthening their IT band.  There are a wide variety of exercises for strengthening your rear end, the monster walk, runner’s lunges and the only way I know to effectively stretch your IT band is to use a foam roller. Every runner should have one, it’s definitely a tool you need to stay on the road and out of the doctor’s office.  

Decrease Inflammation

So in addition to strengthening your rear end and lengthening your IT band there are lots of holistic ways to decrease inflammation in the body. I like runners to take Omega 3 fish oil, it’s an amazing total body anti-inflammatory.  Sometimes people want to drink a supplement so I recommend tart cherry juice, which is also great for anti-inflammation. Every athlete whether you are just starting out or an elite athlete needs to ice the parts of their body that are sore.  In addition to when the pain is bad enough go ahead and grab those anti-inflammatories over the counter, or consult your doctor if you think that your injury isn’t going away or the inflammation is just too much to handle.

Spectrum of Care

You know whether you are a runner who has sailed through their program or gotten hurt along the way we are so fortunate at UPMC to have a wide spectrum of professionals from athletic trainers to physical therapists to physicians and performance trainers who can not only keep you on the road but maximize your performance and minimize your injury.

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