This article is supplied by Shannon Chown, senior physiotherapist at Livewell Pain Management Centre Townsville.
There is nothing worse than an injury when you’re out there on the go or preparing for an event. It can slow progress, prevent completion or participation in your chosen activity and can completely stall fitness goals. But here you are, just starting your exercise journey or upping your intensity for an upcoming event, and you have to stop half way through your session due to what feels like a sharp stick jabbing you just above the outside of your knee. You feel tight and tender down the outside of your thigh, and may have pain the morning following exercise.
“Your best chance at avoiding this gem is a gradual increase in duration/frequency of your training, plus having correct shoes/orthotics, appropriate bike set up (particularly seat height) and a regular stretching regime” – Shannon Chown
Chances are you have ITB (Iliotibial band) friction syndrome. Thankfully, you’re not alone — it accounts for up to 22% of leg injuries in distance runners and cyclists — and it is very treatable. It’s due to an irritation of the connective tissue or bursa (fluid-filled sac) that runs along the length of your thigh and is aggravated during repetitive knee bending activities —hence the high incidence in runners and cyclists.
The plan of attack
Your best chance at avoiding this gem is a gradual increase in duration/frequency of your training, plus having correct shoes/orthotics, appropriate bike set up (particularly seat height) and a regular stretching regime.
If you’re among the many that have fallen into its clutches, your best bet is to make friends with a foam roller — a simple yet effective piece of dense foam (some with vicious little bumps and contours) that you can lay on and roll along the length of the ITB, releasing the tight connective tissues. Also, check out the ‘pretzel’ stretch.
These measures, coupled with an initial decrease in activity, gradual return to training that doesn’t increase your symptoms and using simple ice packs following activity, mean you should find yourself on the mend in a few weeks to a month.
For those more difficult conditions not responding to your best efforts, a physiotherapist should be able to accurately diagnose the cause behind your symptoms and implement a treatment plan to get you back out there and on the go.
Please note: The information provided is general in nature and should not substitute any health or medical advice. Please consult a qualified professional to assist with any specific conditions or queries. You know the drill ;)