I am a semi-superstitious person in that I am hesitant to say things unless I know for certain they are true for fear of jinxing whatever I am talking about. So, saying I am recovered from my IT Band injury may be something that I never really end up saying.
For now, let’s just say things are going well.
A quick timeline:
- Two months ago I ran 50 miles.
- After a week off of running, I started running again keeping things short and easy.
- A week after that things were not looking good. My IT Band was very mad.
- I started going to ART on a weekly basis.
- A week later, at my 2nd ART appointment, I was told not to run for a couple weeks.
- Two weeks after that, I was granted minimal test runs.
- A week later that I was told I could start running again with some precautions.
- Two and a half weeks of running later, here I am, continuing to build up, but happily running (*knock on wood*) pain free.
So what have I been doing (and continuing to do) over the last 2 months to make my pissed off IT band not so pissy and return to pain free running?
**I obviously am in no way a medical professional or anything on that order, so if you are injured or feeling pain, please go see someone. This is just what worked for me!
I think the most important (and most difficult!) part of recovery was completely resting. I left the running to Emma! When I was told not to run for a couple weeks, I took that very seriously. Although some people recommended cycling or other activities to help maintain my fitness (and sanity), I was hesitant to do anything. I personally would rather lose a couple weeks of fitness, but be ready to run sooner on a fully healed IT band, rather than continue to irritate it through other means. But that’s just me.
So besides a couple walks, I pretty much did nothing until I was told otherwise.
ART –Active Release Technique
My Dr. did a bunch of assessments to check to see what was wrong and also listened to exactly what I said hurt and when it hurt. At first he was hopeful that I wouldn’t have to take any time off of running, but after my second visit he told me it was time to rest.
I continued to go to weekly appointments and he worked through all the spots in my leg. Each week I was cleared to do a little bit more, starting with a walk/run and eventually a full on return to running. I haven’t had to continue my visits, but will go back in a couple weeks for a check up and maintenance.
Back in 2008 when I was training for my second marathon, I had my first small battle with my IT band. That was when I first discovered the foam roller and really, the two seem to go hand in hand. When you hear IT band pain, immediately a recommendation to foam roll follows. I love The Grid foam roller and highly recommend it over the standard foam roller.
I have been foam rolling and using The Stick in the morning before I run, as well as in the evening. It’s a time consuming annoying process, but at this point it is very much worth pain free runs. I will be continuing this for a while.
When I was first told to go on some test runs, it was recommended that I heat my IT band up and stretch/roll it before I run (heat makes it easier to stretch!), then ice after. I have been following this routine on almost every run since then. I do have to get up a little bit earlier before I go on morning runs, but so far it has been worth it. I even used an unused dog poop bag (above) for my post-run bag of ice last week. Sometimes you just have to get creative!
I have been icing pretty much every night too, just to be extra cautious during this healing process.
Returning to Running
When I was finally given the green light to return to running, I took things slow, both in mileage and pace. I was so nervous of doing too much too soon and pissing off my leg again.
The first week back I did 2 2 mile runs and a 3 mile run. The next week I did 4 4 mile runs. Last week I upped it and did a couple 5 milers and an 8 miler for 25 miles total. This week I am increasing a little bit more. So far so good!
After those first couple runs back, I have noticed that my fitness and endurance are returning faster than I anticipated, even with my cautious return. My legs and body feel stronger with each run and my mind isn’t as scared anymore.
I am hoping that with continued patience and commitment to all the things above, that I will continue to run pain free while increasing my mileage back up. I am also working on adding in at least one day of yoga/stretching to help keep me strong and injury free going forward.
Although at the time it felt like the end of the world and like I was going to be off of running forever, my time off did go by fast. Once I got over the sad part, I was able to appreciate and take advantage of all my free time.
Above all, this injury and time off made me appreciate running in a new way with a new set of eyes. It also gave me a whole new perspective on injured runners and those who have injuries that last a really long time. I knew that this would teach me a lot, even though I would rather not have to learn, but in the end, I know it will all only make me a stronger runner.