At my last appointment with my Sports Physio I walked out with a big grin plastered on my face. Why? Because she had given me the go ahead to return to running! After giving my leg 24 hours to recover from the latest acupuncture session, I stepped out my door on Monday morning kitted out in my running gear (cropped leggings and t-shirt in January!).
It felt great to be running again after a break of 6 weeks. To ease myself back I did a gentle 2.5km run to the village and walked home. The physio has advised me not to do run/walk intervals; she says it uses different muscles and I should concentrate on running. She suggests running speed intervals, but I don't feel fit enough for that just yet. I went a wee bit further (3.5km) on Wednesday and managed a slow 4.5km today. I feel I'm back to how I felt after C25K, in that I can only run at one pace, in this case it's about 6.20 - 6.40 mins/km. I plan to start running short speed intervals next week and gradually get back to my fitness I had prior to the IT band problem.
I'm being very thorough about stretching after the runs and doing yoga sessions on non-running days. I'm also using the foam roller on my IT band (iliotibial band) after running and before stretching. (Note: the IT band is a tendon, not a muscle, and I'm not stretching that, but targeting the muscles which are attached to it). When I first started to use the foam roller it hurt. Really hurt, when it hit the hard spots in the IT band. This is why I'm sill rolling it regularly and spending a lot of time on stretches.
I find the 'standard issue' standing IT band stretch is no good for me. I just don't feel anything stretching, so it's no wonder I developed this problem. Now I do stretches similar to those show in this video:
The 'Figure 4' stretch is very similar to that which my phsio showed me, except she had me standing beside the bed with the injured leg bent on the bed like on the knee. For those who know yoga, I also do Eye of the Needle and Pigeon poses every day.
My own initial treatment for my IT band injury was simple - but ineffective: take more time off. I rested for a few days and then went for a run, only to be struck down by the same crippling pain within a few minutes. I kept testing my IT band every few days for 4 weeks last November, with the same result every time. Isn’t the definition of insanity trying the same thing and expecting different results? Thankfully the sports physiotherapist recognised my injury immediately - she says it is common injury in runners - and I stopped attempting to run and started treatment.
Since the time I spent trying to run since first developing my injury was quite prolonged there was significant scar tissue along my IT band and a lot of tightness in my hip and glute. I'm not sure if it is 100% clear of scar tissue now and I have a further appointment with the sports physio in a couple of weeks time. Hopefully she will tell me that it is clear. If not, I have conceded that I may need regular sports massage to keep my IT band in the condition it's supposed to be in.
As well as rolling and stretching, I'm increasing time on working on core muscle stability.