Running continues to be the sport of choice for many because of its beneficial health effects, convenience, and economic nature. In 2016, an estimated 64 million Americans went jogging or running. However, running correlates with a high rate of injury, even with all the benefits. Researchers have found that the overall yearly incidence rate for running injuries varies between 37 and 56%, and it could be even higher. Unbelievably, there is no difference in injury rate between gender, age, weight, height, or experience. Furthermore, running speed, frequency, surface, and time of day have little or no effect on future injuries after accounting for distance. Of the modifiable risk factors studied, the strongest predictor of future injury is ‘weekly distance ran’. The most common site of injury is the knee, with Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) being its second leading cause.
The iliotibial band is a vertical thickening of fascia running outside the hip to just below the knee. The IT band functions to stabilize the knee laterally and assist the tensor fascia lata and glute max in abduction, extension, and lateral rotation of the thigh. Knee stability is crucial to the longevity of both the athlete and the joint.
As the knee bends during running, the lower part of the ITB rubs across the side of the femur. The friction from rubbing may cause inflammation and pain, know as Iliotibial Band Syndrome. An emerging theory proposes that injury may be associated with fat compression beneath the tract. Unfortunately, the initial cause of either scenario is still up for debate. Whatever the mechanism of injury, Iliotibial Band Syndrome can cause significant morbidity and lead to cessation of exercise altogether.
Mediation of symptoms can involve stretching, massage, and use of foam rollers at the site of pain and inflammation. However, addressing the cause will lead to lasting relief and function. In particular, hip abductor weakness seems to contribute to the development of Iliotibial Band Syndrome. To combat these factors, it is essential to ensure the strength of these muscle groups. While strength training should be an integral part of any runner’s regimen, an additional step is to have these muscles evaluated by a practitioner that uses Advanced Muscle Integration Technique (AMIT). Such a practitioner identifies muscles that are unable to hold strong under stress and re-integrates those weak muscles back into their properly functioning group. If you have unresolved knee pain sidelining you let us at Clear Point Wellness get you back in action.
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