The knee joint is the largest and most complicated joint in the body. As a runner it is also one of the peskiest joints when it comes to injury. As a Pilates instructor, I find that ITB (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) is not only one of the most common injuries that people seek help for, but it is also the most common injury that athletes try and avoid. ITB is caused by the iliotibial band. The Iliotibial band is a thick band of fibres that begins at the iliac crest (the border of the most prominent bone of the pelvis) in the pelvis and runs on the lateral or outside part of the thigh until it attaches into the tibia (shinbone). The gluteal or buttock muscle fibres and the tensor fascia latae (muscles of the hip joint) attach to it, and the band acts to coordinate muscle function and stabilize the knee. The ITB, which is like hard plastic, rubs against the lateral femoral epicondyle, which creates a pain and inflammation on the outside of the knee. Tightness is also felt on the outside of the knee and pain turns to burning or stinging during running (especially on downhills).
At The Studio Group Focusing on avoiding the injury is obviously our first prize. With the philosophy that prevention is always better than cure we focus on muscular imbalances to help the knee work more effectively and ergonomically. Through Pilates we look at correcting any muscular imbalances in the legs by increasing the flexibility of the tight hip flexors and hamstrings and strengthening the hip adductors, abductors, quadriceps and glute muscles. This allows the knee and hip joints to be more stable and therefore avoid the muscular imbalances occurring.
We are also there to help those who are suffering from ITB. Through a combination of Physiotherapy and Pilates, ITB is very curable. Physiotherapy and specific ITB- stretching program will help with the initial injury, whilst an exercise program from Pilates will ensure proper rehabilitation and further prevention of the injury flaring up in the future.
Here are a few stretches to try if you suffer from ITB:
Starting position: Stand upright and cross your right leg behind your left.
Action: Lea slightly forwards and to your left side until you feel a stretch on the outside of your right leg. Lean on a chair/ wall if needed and hold for 30 seconds.
On your back with a Theraband or a belt:
Starting position: Lie on your back with the Theraband or belt over your foot.
Action: With your knee straight, drop your leg across your body, until you feel the icky stretch down the outside of your thigh (the one that is in the Theraband or the belt).
What else can you do:
If you already have ITB (or the symptoms of it) you want to set up an ITB-stretch program as quickly as you can. Contact us (www.thestudiogroup.co.za) or your local physiotherapist on how to get a program that works for you.
If you are an athlete, and you want to prevent ITB, ensure that you have an exercise regime that incorporates resistance training (Pilates and Yoga) as well as cardiovascular training. It is very important to ensure that you are strengthening your core, and learning about correct body alignment to avoid ITB or any other injuries associated with muscular imbalances.