Thursday, February 19, 2009

Roll, stretch, ice, repeat

Iliotibial band:

"A fibrous reinforcement of the broad fascia on the lateral surface of the thigh, extending from the crest of the ilium to the lateral condyle of the tibia." - American Heritage Medical Dictionary

"A real pain in the butt... literally." - Generic fitness website

Ok, I think most of you reading this are probably pretty familiar with the infamous IT band (NOT a popular San Francisco musical group, as mentioned in one online forum...), simply because you do triathlons, and we all know that triathlon and the IT band have a very special relationship - you do one, there's a good chance you'll mess up the other. Well... ok that only stands true one way... you can't exactly "do" an IT band... though it can sure mess you up in a tri! ITB problems can cause pain in all kinds of places because the ITB pulls on all kinds of things. However, some of the most common areas for pain that I've heard of are the knee, thigh, and butt.

Towards the end of the 2008 season, I messed up my left ITB big time during a cycling tour, and it effectively ended my racing season. While I still did my last three events of the season, I had to walk the run in all of them. Talk about a big blow when running used to be my best event! What was really crazy was that, for the longest time, I didn't actually know what caused the damage. All I knew was that I was experiencing severe pain on the outer side of my knee, and that my knee would occasionally "pop"... which even I knew wasn't normal. I had been told (incorrectly) by a chiropractor who will remain nameless that I had stretched out the tendon in my knee running. It literally got to the point where I couldn't walk a quarter of a mile without being in severe pain. Finally, I met another local athlete who recommended me to local ART guy and my personal hero, Dr. Laney, who literally talked with me about the problem for about 3 minutes, said "You know, I think I know what that is - mind if I try just fixing it real quick?" Ok sure, yeah, go ahead, it's only been 2 months I'm sure you can fix it "real quick" no problem... 15 minutes later I could walk/run/hop around gleefully/etc. Due to an improper bike fit, the seat on my Fuji had been positioned too low, and the constant training on that bike had caused scar tissue build-up around my left IT band, causing it to fuse to the quadriceps, and create pull on the outside of the knee. Dr. Laney went in and (yes, painfully, but who cares???) broke up the scar tissue, relieving the pull on the knee.

I went back to see Dr. Laney a few more times as he continued to work all the gunk out of my leg, and also worked on some older problems that had arisen that past summer. My coach Aaron kept me on a easy run training program so that my legs had some base miles to rebuild and re-strengthen. And in a couple of months I was running normally again, and even working on perfecting my forefoot striking. Boy was I one happy triathlete.

Now, in the past couple of weeks, I seem to have awakened old ghosts... As mentioned in previous blogs, I've always loved yoga, but never been particularly dedicated. About two weeks ago, I was starting a recovery week, and decided that would be the perfect time to finally start dedicating more time and energy to my yoga practice. I so enjoyed my new commitment that I kind of dove in head-first... and apparently I was diving on the shallow end. Whoops. So I over-did it and now a lot of the things that I used to struggle with injury-wise have returned in the past couple of days. Nothing severe, by any means, but after the travesty that last season turned into, I'm easily freaked out! Now, Aaron knews me way too well, and quickly sent me a message telling me not to freak out. And to stretch... all day, every day. Well. I knew that. And, like any athlete, stretching is sooo my favorite... Not!! And of course, we all knew it's not just stretching.

We start out with the foam roller or Stick or whatever your torture device of choice may be. We slooowly roll the hurt/tight muscle on said device, rolling through whatever pain it may be causing. This goes on for 10-15 minutes for a really thorough massage. If you're thorough, you'll use moist heat before rolling. Anyways, after rolling, you stretch. I have three ITB stretches I really find to be effective. I like to sit in each stretch from 2-5 minutes to make sure that I'm really breathing and relaxing into it. I find that anything less than that just isn't as effective. Then, after all that fun, I get out the ice pack(s) and ice for 10 minutes. Then, I repeat. This whole process takes 30-40 minutes. I'm so lucky to be a student and part-time worker because I actually have time during the day to do all this. When I have a full-time job some day, I will have to be doubly careful to not get hurt!

So, my plans for today:

- Roll, stretch, ice, repeat
- Reading for class
- Roll, stretch, ice, repeat
- Reading for class
- Roll, stretch, ice, repeat
- Reading for class
- Massage (not the fun kind!)
- 3 hour class
- Dinner with girlfriends
- NO YOGA!!!
- Reading for class

Sound like a fun day?? If so, and you haven't already tried being a college student and a triathlete... you should really give it a go! I joke. Bad days are few and far between. I'm incredibly blessed by my life, and the not-fun times make the good ones even better. Just wait till after my first tri of the season and read about how completely ecstatic I am then : ) But until then... roll, stretch, ice, repeat...

1 comment:

  1. Ouch, reading about your IT Band remind me of last year after my half marathon ... I can't remember a time in my life where I purposely gave myself so much pain than when I was using that foam rollers daily ;)

    Good luck with it!