Answers to my IT band issue: FINALLY

In case you missed my honest and borderline over-sharing post on where I am with my IT band, basically, I’ve been dealing with IT band syndrome since October. Not.fun.

I felt I had tried everything, and in the words of Lauren Fleshman, The IT band has hit rock bottom.

Here’s a rundown of what I’ve done thus far:

  • Completely rested for 4 weeks
  • Rehabbed with hip/core Physical therapy exercises
  • Tried ART therapy
  • Tried Graston Technique
  • Got a Cortisone injection
  • Spent Hundreds of dollars on massages
  • Took Ibuprofen like it was my job (despite my aversion to NSAIDS)
  • Read Dozens of articles on how to fix it
  • Foam rolled like it’s my job

Do you get my point? Are you still reading? I have exhausted myself!

After all this, including my post a few weeks ago on “surrendering”, and accepting where I am right now, albeit still somewhat injured and just as confused as the doctors about my issue that doesn’t seem to line up with the typical IT band description most have, I believe I am FINALLY seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

You see, my IT band has been so tricky. This entire time, it has never hurt while walking, it has never hurt while going down stairs, I never feel it on the bike, never feel it swimming, nothing hurts except when I am running, and I do not start feeling it until I’m 45 minutes into my run. It never hurts POST run! With that said, I’ve still been able to train at a lower intensity level.  I do need to make something clear: RUNNING THROUGH AN INJURY IS DUMB. We all know that. Don’t do it. I rested for a month, and resting, in this case, was not making it better. There have been other injuries I’ve had that resting was the most appropriate treatment plan.This was not the case with my IT band.

Moving on.

So, after telling these symptoms to all the professionals, one would assume eventually we’d figure out it has GOT to be my running form, right?! Well, it took 4 months and my dear friend Jeni, who isn’t even a physical therapist (yet! She’s almost finished with school 🙂 ) to hit the nail on the head.

A few days ago, I asked Jeni to film me running on the treadmill. She recently began analyzing running form, and while still in the learning phase, we both felt it would be good practice for her, and heck, maybe we’d learn something about my injury. Although I had already been filmed and analyzed a few times back in the fall, it wasn’t until this go around that we believe we finally learned the issue.  You see, before all this, my form looked “pretty good” according to the physical therapists and gait analyzers.

I want to show you the screen shots of the video to see if you find what Jeni found:

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Do you see it? Did you notice my “cross-over” gait on the second photo?

I could bore you with the latest medical journals saying people with cross-over gait are much more likely to experience IT band problems than those who don’t, but take it for what it’s worth. It exponentially increases your chance for IT band problems. Boom.

As we were figuring all this out, I was practically freaking out in my head.

No, literally. I was freaking out. DOES THIS MEAN I CAN FIX IT? TELL ME WHAT TO DOOOO!!!

So, what IS next?

I talked to my physical therapist I’ve been working with, showed him the film, and yep, he saw what Jeni saw, too. And agreed, this could definitely be the culprit.

Well, apparently fixing it is quite simple

A conscious effort to run “wider” rather than “narrow”, while being careful not to overdo it as you are stressing new areas of the body.

And obviously continuing with #allthegluteexercises , specifically, hip hikes:

Hip hikes for the win.

To say I’m excited and hopeful is an understatement. To say I’m sold would be a lie. I’m taking all this with a grain of salt. Maybe this isn’t the answer, and maybe I still am dealing with this in 3 months from now, but I sure as hell hope not.

Here’s to a celebration.

My husband left me a note on our bathroom mirror yesterday that said this:

“WELCOME BACK!”

I think we all can agree spouses of runners/endurance athletes should all be given a hug and a martini. They rock.

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Surrendering: I want to be fast again.

I haven’t drafted a blog post in months. I haven’t even wanted to. Life has been fine and I am running again, but I’m far from where I was just a few posts ago. Seeing photos from when I was at my peak at the end of the summer makes me get a little sad, because my running has changed a lot since then. Gone are the speed workouts and the days when I darted through the door to give my husband a huge sweaty hug after nailing a hard workout.  It doesn’t mean those days will never return, but when you have been dealing with an injury for 4 months and nothing really has changed, you get a little down and think you’ll never get back to where you were. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now.

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Fine, I was dumb and pushed my body really freaking hard, apparently too hard, and now I’m paying the terrible price of that. It’s not been easy. I love the adrenaline of 25×1:00 minutes at 5k pace, with 1 minute recovery. Those are the workouts that build character and physical strength. Those are the workouts I miss. I’ve traded my running shoes for a swim cap and a bike helmet, and while I do get similar endorphins from swimming and riding, when you peel back the layers and get down to it, at the heart, I am a runner. I can’t keep up with the fast guys/gals on the bike like I can on a run. I flop in the water like a dying fish while my new swimming buds zoom past me. I’m not used to that. I’m not used to being last or gasping for air trying to keep up. It’s been an incredibly humbling process.IMG_1614.JPG

I know seasons like this build strength inside us that a run/swim/ride never can. We learn who we really are when we find ourselves in the valley. Life in and of itself has been one big incredible mountain-top the past year, and for that I am immensely thankful. Simultaneously, however, there remains a gap in my life that I realized just can’t be filled with much of anything but a good, hard, gut-wrenching run. I know God calls us to tough places when our strength must be surrendered so we can feel his presence and know we can’t do this journey alone. I’ve felt that a lot during this injury. And despite how difficult it’s been, I do accept and appreciate that.

To say I’ve hit rock bottom and completely surrendered would be a lie. I haven’t. In some ways I wish I had, so I can just throw my hands up and say, “Whatever you want, God.” I know he wants us to do that. Maybe I’m on the road to doing that, and that’s why he’s allowed this shitty injury to linger when it should have been healed months ago. Besides, it’s just a little IT band nag, but if you’ve ever dealt with IT issues, you know a little “nag” can drive you up a wall with its inconsistencies and stealth.  Ultimately, I don’t have the answers, but I do know life is more than how fast I am or even if I ever run again. As hard as that is to type, I do believe that.  When you are in a valley in a certain area of your life, the word surrender becomes more and more powerful and attainable. Runners are control freaks. To deny that is like denying that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. Surrendering to the unknown of the future to a God you can’t see is so freaking hard. I know this is a running blog, and even if you don’t believe in God, I’m confident we all can agree surrendering to anything is difficult.IMG_2280.JPG

With all that said, like I mentioned above, I am running, and have even raced a couple times, albeit with unimpressive times, but I have improved as far as pain is concerned. The pain is not constant, however, it is inconsistent, and I haven’t really gotten answers from anyone, including professionals. Everyone says IT band pain is related to your glutes, and I’ve strengthened those things like a freaking psycho. All in all, I am on the right track, I do believe that, but it’s been an arduous journey.

With high hopes of returning to my old self again and promises to blog more frequently,

Katie