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IT Band Syndrome: Relief and Prevention

Upper Leg Pain ExercisesRecent Studies on IT Band Syndrome (ITBS):
A Look at Hip and Knee Mechanics

Illiotibial band syndrome (IT Band Syndrome / ITBS) is one of the leading causes of pain in athletes whose sports involve running.  The estimated incidence rate for athletes is believed to be between 5% and 14%.

Traditionally, believed to be an overuse injury, IT Band Syndrome is often described as being caused by friction or rubbing of the  iliotibial band (ITB) over the lower part of the femur as the knee extends and flexes. Sufferers of ITBS typically experience pain along the outside of the knee joint.  This pain is sometimes accompanied by a clicking sensation which is the result of the IT band tightening and snapping across the joint during physical activity.  ITBS usually starts with tightness, and untreated, can become very painful.  Pain from ITBS is typically experienced on the outside of the knee or lower thigh and can be made worse by activities like climbing up and down stairs, getting out of a car, or running up or down hills.  A person with ITBS may also feel tenderness in the knee tissue when applying pressure.

It’s believed then that the continual rubbing of the IT band over the outside of the femur may cause swelling, pain or a stinging sensation on the outside of the knee.  Recent studies, however, have focused on the frontal and transverse plan mechanics of the knee and lower extremity, suggesting that atypical hip and knee mechanics are the primary factors in development of ITBS.

Studies comparing runners with IT Band Syndrome to healthy runners found that the IT Band Syndrome group exhibited significantly greater hip adduction and knee internal rotation than the control group, leading researcher to reconsider the role of hip and knee in running mechanics. Subsequent studies have focused on the importance of running mechanics, providing evidence that gait re-training with step rate manipulation may be important for the treatment of IT Band Syndrome. The jury is still out on whether gait re-training is the key to curing ITBS, however, most reports did find that traditional strengthening of the hip abductors and flexibility exercises do contribute to a successful outcome.

ITBS Prevention & Remedies

Because the most notable symptom of IT Band Syndrome is typically swelling and pain on the outside of the knee, many runners mistakenly think they have a knee injury. It’s critical to rule out a knee problem or other serious injury. Ensuring proper gait as well as strength and flexibility of the hip abductors can be the most effective ways to prevent IT Band Syndrome.

IT Band Syndrome can become extremely painful and debilitating and can sideline a runner completely if not treated in its early stages.

Some risk factors for developing ITBS are:

  • Physical factors like stiffness of the IT Band tissue, unequal leg lengths, or extremely flat feet or high arches
  • A sudden increase in running routine intensity
  • Inadequate warm ups before or cool downs after running
  • Women are more likely to suffer from ITBS than men

ITBS Prevention

To prevent being sidelined with ITBS, it is best to prevent ITBS before it happens or to identify it in its very early stages.  Suggestions for preventing ITBS include:

  • core_comboRun on level surfaces – Running on flat surfaces can help avoid injury. If athletes are running on roads, it is important that they run on both sides of the road as many roads are higher in the center and slope to the sides. This slope can cause one foot to be lower than the other, resulting in the pelvis tilting to one side and stressing the IT band.
  • Avoid running on concrete surfaces – If running on a track, it is a good idea to change directions periodically.
  • Balance training – Runners should make sure that they include strength training and flexibility exercises in their workout routine and build in rest and recovery time into their training schedule.
  • Stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the IT band – Athletes can help prevent and treat ITBS by using the CoreStretch to strengthen weak hip and core muscles. The CoreStretch uses the body’s natural traction to safely and effectively stretch hamstrings, lower back, hips, piriformis, and glutes.
  • Only wear athletic shoes that are in good condition – If shoes are worn along the outside of the sole, they should be replaced.

ITBS Treatment

If an athlete begins to notice IT band pain, they should take steps to treat their ITBS before the pain increases.  Some steps to treat ITBS include:

Step 1:  Immediate Relief – Reduce Discomfort

  • Rest from training activities – Runners should decrease mileage or take a few days off if they feel pain on the outside of the knee.
  • IT Band Syndrome StrapUse a strap like the Cho-Pat IT Band Strap to compress the area and assist with ITBS healing. The Cho-Pat IT Band Strap provides Dynamic Pain Diffusion at the point of injury to alleviate the pain and discomfort of ITBS.
  • Ice massage – Freeze water in a small paper cup and rub the ice directly on the area of pain for about 15 minutes or until it gets numb. With ITBS, it is best to ice immediately after a run, but even icing it well at least once a day will help.
  • When you’re ready to go back to activity, cross train! Substitute other activities like swimming, cycling, and rowing while taking a break from running.

Step 2:  Long Term Healing:  Stretch, Strengthen & Massage

STRETCH

stretchrite_piriformis_stretchGiven the relevance of gait, hips positioning and knee rotation to ITBS, it is important to keep the posterior chain strong and flexible with a goal of improving alignment and restoring the workload back to the appropriate muscles.

Stretching exercises targeting the gluteus medius, piriformis, vascus lateralis, gastroc and soleus will help to ensure flexibility along the posterior chain.

The patented StretchRite features a non-elastic strap which makes it easy to perform each stretch properly and effectively.

STRENGTHEN
Strengthening exercises include focus on the hip abductors, which can include: lateral leg raises, clamshells, hip thrusts, and side
steps/shuffle.

MASSAGE

RangeRoller_ITBS_Solution

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medi-Dyne’s Advanced ITBS Solution available at the Medi-Dyne store.

advanced_ITBand_Solution Medi-Dyne

Runner’s Knee: Immediate Relief & Long-Term Healing

Runner’s Knee

Medi-Dyne_Knee_Pain_SolutionsRunners knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is the term used for non-specific pain that involves pain behind or around the kneecap, pain when you bend the knee, especially when walking, squatting, kneeling, running, or getting up from a chair and in some cases, pain that’s worse when walking downstairs or downhill. Pain can be sharp and sudden or dull and chronic. Not just found in runners, this syndrome is one of the most widely diagnosed in individual whose work or activities involve significant running or knee bending.

Functional risk factors for Runner’s Knee can include:
• Over use
• Prior injury
• Biomechanics
• Overpronation

Reducing the Pain of Runner’s Knee

An extremely common condition, a diagnosis of Runner’s Knee (PFPS) covers a range of usually vague symptoms of pain ‘in’, ‘under’ or ‘behind’ the kneecap. While there is no consensus on exactly what causes PFPS, a recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports &
Exercise found hip weakness and instability to be a contributing factor.  Additional research supports initial rest, minimizing impact, and
stretching and strengthening the supporting muscles can reduce pain. In the case of runner’s knee, research shows positive results from
introducing routines focused on glute, hip flexor/extensor and quad strength as well as hamstring and hip flexibility.

Individual experiencing early stages of Runner’s Knee pain can take steps to provide immediate relief and long-term healing.

Step 1:  Immediate Relief – Reduce DiscomfortCho-Pat_Origina_Knee_Strap_Runners_knee

For reducing the pain of Runner’s Knee, after initial rest, reducing discomfort during activity becomes an important aspect of recovery.
Cho-Pat’s® Original Knee Strap™ stabilizes and tightens up on the kneecap mechanism by applying pressure upon the patellar tendon below the kneecap. For many suffering from Runner’s Knee, this compression reduces or eliminates inflammation and helps prevent knees from giving out while still allowing full mobility.

Cho-Pat_Dynamic_Knee_Compression_SleeveFor others looking for greater coverage and support, compression sleeves like the Cho-Pat® Dynamic Knee Compression Sleeve™ provides light-weight support-oriented compression in a sleeve that both stabilizes the knee and reduces the inflammation caused by Runner’s Knee.

Step 2:  Long-Term Healing – Stretch, Strengthen & Massage

STRETCH AND STRENGTHEN

StretchRite for Runners KneeFor Runner’s Knee, stretching exercises targeting the gluteus medius, piriformis, hamstrings, and quads will help to ensure flexibility along the posterior chain are important.

The patented StretchRite® features a non-elastic strap which makes it easy to perform each stretch properly and effectively. Six ergonomically-shaped handgrips offer a comfortable non-cinching hold and make it simple to adjust tension during the stretch. The handgrips also serve as visual feedback helping athletes safely stretch and monitor their progress.

Strengthening exercises should include focus on the hip abductors.
1. TFL/Glutes (lying side leg lifts, resisted side steps; glute bridge)
2. External Rotators (lying clam raise)
3. Quadriceps (straight leg lifts)
MASSAGE
RangeRoller_ITBS_SolutionFor Runner’s Knee, massage and myofacial release can often relieve muscle tension and create tissue mobility contributing significantly towards increasing flexibility. RangeRoller®’s unique design allow you to use both the TriggerTreads™ for increasing circulation as well as the end of the RangeRoller handle for releasing trigger points. For increased flexibility, circulation and performance consider massaging the:
• Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL – at the bending point of the hip)
• Vascus lateralis (outside quad)
• Glutes

 

 

Medi-Dyne’s Advanced Runner’s Knee Solution available at the Medi-Dyne store.

Medi-Dyne_Advanced_RunnersKnee_500-500x500

Getting a Safe and Effective Tight Calf Stretch

Tight Calf Stretches

Osgood Schlatter DiseaseOur earlier blog post, Tight Calf Solutions, covered why flexible calves are critical to both performance and preventing lower leg, ankle, Achilles tendon, and foot injuries.  It also outlined Medi-Dyne’s 2Steps™ Solutions for a Strained or Tight Calf which focuses on a regimen to provide both immediate relief and long-term healing with the goal of putting you back on your feet and at peak performance.

An important part of that process is to introduce a regimen of tight calf stretches because the best way to treat tight calf pain is to keep it from happening in the first place.  Many times, an effective tight calf stretch can improve lower extremity strength, balance, and flexibility; and increased muscle flexibility reduces the risk of lower leg injuries caused by tight calf muscles.

An effective way to allow improvement in lower extremity strength, balance and flexibility is to use the ProStretch Plus.  The ProStretch Plus is a unique enhancement tool that was originally designed for physical therapists and delivers a safe, effective solution for performing tight calf stretches.  It has been proven to provide a deep stretch that increases flexibility along the entire inter-connective chain which helps deliver a lasting solution for tight calf muscles.

ProStretchPlusProStretch Plus is perfect for the gradual, controlled stretch needed to increase the flexibility of tight calf muscles and prevent future injuries.  With a proper ProStretch Plus flexibility program, muscles and tendons actually begin to lengthen.  Learn how to best stretch and strengthen your lower leg and prevent tight calf symptoms using the ProStretch Plus by downloading the ProStretch Plus Stretching Guide here.

Watch here how to use the ProStretch Plus to reduce calf pain and achieve an ideal tight calf stretch.

Another Medi-Dyne tool that is ideal for getting a great tight calf stretch is the StretchRite.  The StretchRite’s patented system features a non-elastic strap which makes it easy to perform each stretch properly and effectively.  It is not only ideal for tight calf stretches; it also is good for stretching and conditioning every major muscle group in your body, including your arms, shoulders, torso, and legs.

StretchRite

The StretchRite makes it easy to individualize a stretching program and monitor progress because it features six ergonomically-shaped handgrips that offer a comfortable non-cinching hold and make it simple to adjust tension during the stretch.   As flexibility improves, advance to the next handgrip position to increase the stretch.  Click here to download the instruction manual and view instructional videos for the StretchRite.

 

In addition to using the ProStretch Plus and the StretchRite to help treat and prevent tight calf muscles, there are additional tight calf stretches that can be performed:

Downward Dog – Some yoga poses are ideal for performing tight calf stretches.  Get down on all fours with hands spread flat on the floor under your shoulders.  Walk your hands forward slightly on the floor and spread your fingers apart to allow for a broad base of support.  Push your hips up toward the ceiling and tighten your abdominal muscles.  Try to keep your heels on the ground and gently try and straighten your knees.  This pose should be held for 15-30 seconds.

 

 

 

Tight Calf Solutions

Medi-Dyne Tight Calf SolutionsFlexible, functional calves are critical to both performance and preventing lower leg, ankle, Achilles tendon and foot injuries. Tight Calf Causes Tight calf and calf strain injuries are often due to sudden stress on the calves. This stress can result in small micro-tears to the muscle fibers or more serious rupture of the muscles fibers. The calf muscle (gastroc) where it nears the meets the thigh bone (femur) in particular plays a major role in generating power when you jump or sprint. Injuries at this juncture are relatively common but often preventable. Calf muscle strains usually occur when the muscles are not warmed up properly or have fatigued significantly during exercise.   Functional Risk Factors:calf-strain-visit-estore

  • Improper warm up
  • Fatigue
  • Previous Injury
  • Tightness or weakness in the:
    • Gastrocnemius
    • Soleus
    • Hamstrings

Calf Flexibility Critical to Foot & Leg Injuries A quick stretch on the curb, against the wall or just pulling your feet back with a towel often what people consider stretching their calves,but are you taking this muscle group seriously enough? A tight calf can prevent proper movement of your ankle, specifically dorsiflexion (point & flexing motions) which in turn impact both the how you walk and how you stand. To compensate for this, the foot rolls or pronates further which causes excess rotation of the lower leg. This can contribute to conditions such as shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, knee misalignment, hip misalignment and even tight hamstrings. Time spent on increasing the flexibility of a tight calf can significantly minimize the occurrence of foot pain, heel pain, Achilles tendon pain, shin splints, calf pain and even hip and back pain. Slow, deep, effective stretches held for 30 seconds or more are what are typically required to increase the flexibility in a tight calf. The degree and biomechanical alignment of the stretch is also important. Over stretching or performing stretches incorrectly can cause injury or further injury an existing strain. Medi-Dyne’s 2Steps™ Solutions make rehabilitating a strained calf and increasing calf flexibility easy.

Save when you buy Medi-Dyne 2Steps Solutions for Calves! *

SAVE 10%:  Medi-Dyne’s Essential 2Steps Solutions for Tight Calf

SAVE 15%:  Medi-Dyne’s Advanced 2Steps Solutions for Tight Calf

 

Strained Calf Rehabilitation and Increasing Tight Calf Flexibility

Working with medical professionals, Medi-Dyne has developed 2Steps™ Solutions for a Strained or Tight Calf. 2Steps Solutions deliver a sound regimen which provides both 1. Immediate Relief and 2. Long-Term Healing, putting you back on your feet and at peak performance.

Cho-Pat Calf Compression Sleeve

Cho-Pat Calf Compression Sleeve

Step 1:  Immediate Relief

  • Promote Circulation & Healing

Athletes often find relief from light compression.  The Cho-Pat Calf Compression Sleeve applies gentle support for lower legs while promoting circulation and warmth which controls fluid build-up and enhances healing.   

Step 2:  Long-Term Healing

ProStretch Plus

ProStretch Plus

 

  • Stretch and Strengthen:
      • Gastroc
      • Soleus

Gastroc and soleus flexibility is imperative to the health of shins. By stretching your calves daily and increasing your calf flexibility, you can dramatically reduce your risk of muscle imbalance injury.

 The ProStretch® Plus makes it easy for athletes to perform all of the necessary stretches independently, effectively and efficiently.

  • Massage

Massaging can often bring added relief and flexibility. RangeRoller’s unique design allow you to use both the TriggerTreads™ for increasing circulation as well as the end of the RangeRoller handle for releasing trigger points.

RangeRoller Massage Therapy

RangeRoller

For increased circulation, performance and healing consider massaging the:

    • Outer side of calf
    • Inner side of calf
    • Lower part of calf just above the Achilles tendon

Find these and all of the Medi-Dyne 2Steps Solutions at the Medi-Dyne Store!

Check back on March 17, 2015 for more information on Tight Calf Stretches!