Tag Archives: Injury

How I Overcame My IT Band Injury

Do you know how, when you buy a new car, you suddenly notice all of the other cars on the road of the same make and model? It’s happen to me every time.

I guess the same can be true for injuries. I’ve definitely had my share, the latest being IT Band Syndrome that prevented me from running the Ogden Marathon last Spring.

Ever since then I noticed a lot of other runners having the same problems. It seemed to be more than normal, but again, perhaps since I was experiencing it for the first time I noticed others who had it too.

I spoke with a few of my fellow runners who had the same problem and given them bits and pieces of what I learned from five months of physical therapy. Each time I promised to write a post on it – and now I’m finally getting around to it.

If there’s one thing I took away from my PT treatments, it was the importance of core stability. The core controls everything – movement in the upper and lower areas of the body.

The core is not just your abs. It’s also your back, hips, glutes – pretty much everything in the center of your body. And if one thing goes out of whack, then everything else can too – it’s all related. This is why your core muscles need strength and flexibility to maintain balance. Imbalances can cause misalignment and injury.

In the spirit of “putting myself out there”, here’s a video that my PT took of my running gait:

After filming this, I was asked what I saw. To be honest, I really didn’t know what I was looking for. But then it was pointed out to me that my left foot does all the work while my right foot just kind of drags along. My hips were imbalanced and not stable.

I found a great paragraph in this article (it’s a good one, read the whole thing) that explains what was happening far better than I ever could:

“A great example of this is the effect of weak gluteal muscles on the knee and foot. If gluteus medius and gluteus minimus (our primary hip abductors) are weak, the femur will tend to adduct and internally rotate. If you follow this down the kinetic chain, the knee will fall into a “knock-kneed” position and proper knee tracking will be disturbed, the foot will tend to pronate. The smaller leg muscles are not able to make up for the weakness of the gluteal muscles and a number of injuries (IT band syndrome, Achilles tendionosis, plantar fasciitis, & shin splints) can result along the lower kinetic chain.”

Personally, I never experienced pain in the IT Band itself – the pain manifested itself in my knee. And it was debilitating.

I now do the exercises prescribed by my PT religiously – at least once (sometimes twice if I have time) a day.

I’ve combined the many exercises into two sets – one standing, and the other lying:

Standing Exercises

Standing on a step or stool:
1. Single Leg Dips
2. Skateboarders (like you’re riding a skateboard)
3. Reverse Skateboarders
4. Frog Legs (kick the hanging leg out, then raise the hip and bend the knee to bring it back to standing)
* 30-reps on each leg

I do this set of exercises before a run. The key for these exercises is to think about placing your weight on the heel of the foot planted on the step so you engage your glute muscles. You also want to be sure you are not overly dipping your hip. The movements can be very small, but it is still effective. Also, I will lightly place a finger on something to help me stay balanced and not fall over.

Lying Exercises

1. Bridge
2. Clam Shells
3. Leg Extension Side Kicks (lying on your side, extend the top leg behind you and turn your toes out, heel in)
4. Overhead Abdominal Pulls with a medicine ball or bands (focus on engaging your transverse abdominis aka lower abs)
5. 90-degree Clam Shells (knees at 90-degrees)
6. Leg Extension Back Kicks (same position as #3 but you are extending a bent knee back/forth)
7. Elevated Clam Shells (heels together and elevated)
* 30-reps (on each side as needed)

Doing these exercises can be very nauseating, especially at the end of a long day. But after doing these exercises regularly for six months I no longer have knee pain. Both my PT and chiropractor have noticed a significant increase of strength in my hips which has been incentive enough for me to keep it up.

Some other things that have helped me are:
• 3/4 Single-Leg Squats: If you think about, every step you take when you run is a three-quarter single-leg squat. Doing this exercise helps to build knee stability. My goal (that I am still working on) is to do 50 on each leg without any internal knee rotation aka instability.
• Walking up a hill or on a treadmill at an incline and REALLY focus on engaging you glutes.
• Dragging on foot on the treadmill, at a very slow speed (0% incline while the other foot is standing on the edge) and again, think “engage glutes”
• Think about externally rotating your hips during the first min of each mile.

Doing all of these extra exercises, in addition to my regular training takes a lot of time and effort. But it’s paid off. Combined with a few minutes of daily yoga, and periodic acupuncture and chiropractic treatments, I was able to overcome my nagging IT Band Injury. And now I know what to do to ensure it doesn’t reoccur.

Recapping the Past 2 Weeks

I didn’t write a training recap of the week following the San Jose RnR Half, but it went something like this:

  • Monday: 2-hr Thai Massage that was so tough after 90-minutes I asked if it was almost over.
  • Tuesday: Weekly Acupuncture Treatment
  • Wednesday: ART Treatment by my chiropractor (first visit in 6 weeks)
  • Friday: Weekly PT appointment

Mixed in was a 5.60-mile Speed workout that my chiro chastised me for doing saying that “I should have known better”.

In my defense, I felt really good before the run, but not that good after.

A couple of days later I managed to get in a 6-mile run that went fine, followed by a Spin workout the next day.


Last Saturday I attempted an 18-miler. Prior to it my PT advised me really tune in with my body and not push it if I felt like the 18-miles weren’t going to happen.

“It’s better to be conservative so that you can still run in these last few weeks before the race, rather than to kill yourself trying to hit 18-miles and not be able to run at all afterwards.” she said.

With that advice in mind I set out to repeat an 18-mile run in the City.

To make a long story short I made it 13-miles. Turns out my hammy still wasn’t ready for the hills. I think if I had run a flat route I would have been able to finish the 18.

The highlights of the run were:

1. I met this guy in the Marina who sets up his own aid station to support all the runners and cyclists out training.

My water bottle needed a refill and I ran into him at the perfect time. I posted this photo on Instagram and got strange questions about “if he charges.” Ummm, yes, this is America, of course he does. I don’t know what he charges for all the other stuff, but my bottled water was just $1. Pretty reasonable if you ask me and I appreciated the effort.

2. I ran the entire 13-miles with no music. Let me repeat – 13 MILES WITHOUT MUSIC!

It was my longest ever solo run without listening to tunes. And it wasn’t bad at all.

I’ve gotten pretty tired of the music that I’ve been listening to and didn’t have time to put together a new playlist. I decided to run the first mile without music. It went so well that I decided to try another mile. Then another, then another. I made it through the entire run without feeling the need to turn on my iPod shuffle. I may not have been able to run all 18 miles, but running 13-miles with no music made up for it!


Given how last week went, this past week has been pretty easy:

  • Sun: Rest
  • Mon: 1-hr Swim
  • Tues: 6-miles with the middle 4 at a tempo pace
  • Wed: 30-min Strength Training
  • Thurs: 6-mile Easy Run
  • Fri: 45-min Spin
  • Sat: Rest

I also had my weekly Acupuncture and PT appointments, both of which had favorable results.

Tomorrow I have a 20-miler scheduled that I’m planning to do on a completely flat route. Surprisingly I am not feeling very nervous about it.

Usually at this point in a training cycle I am sick of running and already feeling anxiety about the race. But this time around I feel neither.

Maybe it’s because I have removed all the running apps from my iPhone and iPad – you know, the ones that predict finishing times based upon current paces? Or maybe it’s because I stopped reading running books and magazines that I think made me start to take running way too seriously? Or maybe it’s because I stopped using social media sites like Daily Mile where I felt like I was constantly comparing myself to others and being judged as well.

Perhaps all of the above.

All I do know is that I have put forth my best effort and have done everything I can possibly do to prepare myself with what my body currently allows.

And I have no expectations other than to enjoy and appreciate the experience.

So here’s to 20-miles in the AM!

What to Expect At Your First Acupuncture Treatment

At my physical therapist’s recommendation I had my first ever acupuncture treatment this week.

When I arrived for my appointment I found that the practitioner’s office was located in a physical therapy clinic. I was early and as I sat in the Wait Area I found these items on the table…

…Runners World magazine and AT&T Park.

I immediately felt like I was in the right place.

This initial appointment was scheduled for 90-minutes. The first 40-ish minutes were spent talking to the acupuncturist. She asked me why I was there, and we discussed my ailments and symptoms in great detail. She even took it a step further and asked questions about diet, sleep, emotional and mental well-being, etc.

I loved her “big picture” approach. It is gratifying to be treated by a health professional that takes the time to get to know me, and wants to understand my background and history.

It’s so much better than having a doctor tell me I should just find other hobbies and interests (i.e., my General Practitioner).

During the consultation I also learned that she works extensively with other athletes – dancers, ultra runners, etc and knew quite a bit about running. I felt even more comfortable and confident about being treated by her.

After the consultation she explained the treatment process, what I could expect to feel, etc.

Prior to the visit I had quizzed a few friends who had acupuncture treatments and they all assured me that it wouldn’t hurt and that ART and Graston were much more painful. They were right.

I laid on the table; face down with a pillow under my shins. She swabbed the areas where the needles were going with alcohol, then proceeded to place 16-18 needles in my hands, feet, mid-back, lower back, hips, and of course glutes. It barely felt like a pinch.

She covered me with a Mylar blanket (the kind you get at the Finish Line of a race) then had me lie there for 30-35 minutes. It was relaxing and I even dozed off for a bit. When time was up, she came in, removed the needles and we wrapped up the visit.

She said that everyone reacts differently to treatments and some people see results right away and others take a while.

It’s been about 36 hours since my visit and I feel a little better, but not miraculously healed. I’m looking forward to the rest of the treatments (5 weekly visits is the recommended treatment plan for orthopedic symptoms). I’ve heard nothing but positive things about acupuncture treatment and am glad to have the first visit out of the way.

I had a lot of anxiety about what to expect. Just thinking about needles being stuck in your body is never a fun thought.

I hope this post will reassure anyone considering this treatment of how pain-free it is.

In other news…

I’m writing this post on “Omm Writer.” It’s a free writing software that I learned about here. Omm Writer blocks out all notifications on your computer when writing. It plays soothing music and has a peaceful interface. Its been a very “Zen” writing experience.

Also, if you are reading this post in an RSS feed, click on over to the actual site. I’ve spent a lot of time this week redesigning and coding it. It’s so much fun and gratifying when I punch in some code and it actually works! I never thought I would get CSS and HTML talk, but it’s all starting to come together!