I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile but it’s been quite the battle with the IT band monster. I wish I could have given updates about what I was doing to make it better but literally I was doing everything I could. For awhile I thought nothing was working and I was going to done with running FOREVER. Slightly dramatic, yes, but I never imagined a running injury like this. Or being out of running for as long as I was.
How it started:
It kinda started out of no where. I went for a 15 mile run and around mile 10 I noticed a slight pulling feeling in my hamstring. Weird, never had pain there before. Went home, stretched, foam rolled and took it easy for a couple days and was fine. Then before I knew it, I was having pain in my butt (piriformis) and back. Finally, I started feeling pain in my knee (IT band) but by then it was already too late. I kept trying to foam roll and losen it up but it was to the point where foam rolling was making it worse! The IT band was too aggitated and needed a break and here I was foam rolling it (think of it like a scab you keep picking that then won’t heal).
What I did:
Well first I was super dumb and kept running on it. So dumb Jess. I had some of my best training and was putting out some awesome times and was not ready to give up on the marathon I had been training my guza off for. Finally, after a race (where I puked and still PR’d), I was in so much pain I could barely walk and knew I was done done. I felt a pang, pull thingy in my IT band knee area. It hurt and was super scary all at once. It was real bad. So I iced and applied heat. I heard somewhere that the mixture of the two makes the muscles expand and contract and then makes it better. No idea where I heard this from but it does make it feel better. I even took ice packets to work so I could ice during the day.
I went to see a Neural Muscular Therapy specialist. She made everything feel better and I could run again but it wasn’t a long term fix. I would have had to go every week for the rest of my running life (which I am planning on being forever so it would have been expensive). I went and got sports massages, which was a huge help. Really loosened up the area. Sometimes I would go in barely able to walk and would come out walking like a normal person again.
I took time off. It sucked. Seriously, hated every minute of it. I went and saw a doctor who basically told me to find a new hobby ( I won’t be going back to him) I took off a solid 2 weeks where I did nothing. After 2 weeks, I started on the elliptical, slowly just to test it out. No pain so I continued this for a few weeks. After 8 weeks I started to run again. Slowly. Like extremely slowly and only for 10 minutes. After not running for 8 weeks and barely running before that, I was struggling. I knew what it was like for people who just started running. I was starting from scratch and it was hard!
Believe it or not I was still having trouble. Luckily, I knew a local runner, who was a PT and worked around my crazy work schedule to see me. He did some Active Release Treatment (ART), taught me a ton of strengthening exercises (which I do religiously) and stretched me out like crazy. The best part was he told me to continue running! Holla! I had been keeping up with running 10 minutes about 4 days a week so I built on that. I added 5 mins every week and never paid attention to speed (Well, I paid attention and it was slow and depressing). I never set out to run a certain number of miles, I set out and ran for time instead. Before I knew it I was back up to an hour of running and could finally start racing again.
What I do now:
I can now foam roll again now that my IT band isn’t all flared up. I foam roll a couple days a week but not everyday. I get a massage once a month to keep my legs loose (I’ve heard blood flow to the area really helps). I stretch on my own and have Ryan stretch me a couple times a week. I continue to do strengthening excerises and continue work on my core (I’ve always worked on my core, it’s so easy to do while watching TV at night). I don’t run everyday or run my body into the ground like I used to. I miss being able to do that but I’d rather be heathly. I run 4-5 days a week and spin a couple days too.
Am I 100%:
No. I still have a long way to go. I still have days where no matter how good I take care of my IT band, I still have issues. I take rest days whenever I need to and never run when it hurts or feels aggitated. Hopefully, one day I will not have an IT band issues at all but for now I enjoy just being able to run at all. I am seeing huge improvements in my running since September. I started doing speed work again, I am back to racing, have even busted out some speedy 10 milers and looking forward to a half in December.
Has anyone else experienced a running set back? How did you handle it? Ice cream, tears, beer?