Iliotibial Band Syndrome is a common problem with runners and cyclists and those who have suffered an injury. The iliotibital band, commonly known as the IT band, is a band of tissue extending from the hip, along the outside of the thigh and knee. With "Iliotibial Band Syndrome" the IT band becomes very tight and sore, making it difficult to exercise.
How does Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) occur and what can you do about it?
ITBS occurs when the IT band becomes inflammed during repetitive flexion and extension of the leg in running, biking and hiking. I would offer another perspective, because not all runners, cyclists and hikers suffer from a tight IT band and/or accompanying knee pain.
ITBS is actually the result of a Trauma Reflex
The most common muscular pattern I see in people with IT band pain is the Trauma Reflex. The photo at right is of a recent client - a soccer player - who complained of right sided iliotibial band pain, hamstring and knee pain. It is a perfect example of the trauma reflex.
Notice the following:
- The waist muscles on the left side of his body are tighter, hiking the left hip up higher than the right.
- His left shoulder is pulled down in response to the tightening of the waist muscles.
- The shift in his pelvis causes him to shift his weight to his right side.
When this occurs, the pelvis is pulled out of balance and twists slightly. This can occur if you're a runner who slips in the mud, or a cyclist who falls off his bike. This Trauma Reflex alters the gait in such a way that one will run or walk as if he were a car with one flat tire. This kind of accumulated muscle tension on one side causes the IT band to tighten in order to stabilize the relationship between the pelvis, hip and knee. In this client's case, we did a clinical session for the trauma reflex, and in one hour, his hamstring, knee and IT band pain disappeared once he learned to even out his waist muscles and regain symmetry in his pelvis.
Why doesn't stretching help?
Stretching fascia that is attached to muscles that are constantly contracting suggests a lack of understanding about how the muscular system works. Fascia is tight because the muscles are tight. Muscles become tight through habituation - in the case of IT band pain - a Trauma Reflex, which creates a postural imbalance. Because muscles are controlled from within - both voluntarily and involuntarily fascia will become more pliable once the muscles relax. Fascial work is an example of attempting to fix the problem from the "outside in" when in fact, it can only be fixed from the inside out - through sensory motor retraining. Learn to change the way in which you sense and move your muscles you are on road the targeting the root cause of your pain: your brain.
Visit the Essential Somatics® store to learn to relieve your muscle pain in the comfort of your own home.