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What is ITB Syndrome?

Feb 14, 2016 | Uncategorized | 12 comments

Back in 2011 whilst training for my first marathon, I was struck with ITB issues, also known as Runner’s Knee. I did what any sensible new runner would do when faced with the news that their 4 months of training was for nothing, and I stopped running (and exercising) completely. I hung up my trainers for 9 months and sat on the sofa…until it was time to train again for that deferred marathon place.
finished marathon
Instead of just running this time, I added in some cross training to my workout plan, and roped in a friend to complete the London Marathon. I had no knee issues that time round and finished the marathon promising I would run faster the next time.
And there has been a next time, and another three after that.
Running the Berlin Marathon
However, despite more sensible training the ITB issue is back. After months of intermittent knee pain I finally went to a specialist who referred me for an MRI and X-Rays, thinking I may have torn my meniscus (which would require keyhole surgery). Luckily/unluckily it turns out it is the return of Iliotibial band syndrome.
ITB syndrome occurs when the iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, is tight or inflamed. The IT band attaches to the knee and helps stabilize and move the joint. When the IT band isn’t working properly, movement of the knee (and, therefore, running) becomes painful.
sore knee
This issue sidelined me completely back in 2011, but this time around I am determined not to let that happen. Of course my first point of contact was super coach Kerry, who sent me a link to Runner’s World (always trying to plug his own site!) although it did have some useful information.
Rest is key here apparently, so even though it didn’t hurt running 8 miles a few weeks ago, it wasn’t doing much good either. I’ve cut my runs right down, and am sticking mostly to one 3 miler a week, and one weights/treadmill class a week. Other low impact exercises are good to keep fitness levels up, especially swimming and spinning. Tom’s flat in Cardiff is a short walk from the International Pool there so on Saturday morning instead of jogging to parkrun I found myself in my sportiest looking bikini and goggles, splashing up and down.
As for spinning/cycling, my current fave studio is Ride Republic, so I’ve booked into my 3 ClassPass sessions as well as signing up for a few classes at Core Collective. Other workouts that you might want to include are pool running, and rowing.
Ride Republic
In addition to cardio exercise, I’m working with my friend and PT Alex on a weekly basis on moves and exercises that will help strengthen my glute max and gluteus medius/minimus – more of which I’ll share in future.
Perhaps you remember a few weeks ago I alluded to some fun news that I had to share, well that was that I had been given a London Marathon spot with Lucozade (one of the main sponsors). I’m still hoping I’m going to make the start line, but I’m not going to be silly about it, and if it will be too painful or do some real damage, then I won’t run. Fingers crossed that won’t be the case, but my first priority is rehabbing my knee to make it stronger for the future!
I know this injury is very common, so I’ll be sharing more about my recovery and rehab along the way. Have you ever had any running related injuries?


  1. Sanna

    I hope your injury heals quickly! I’ve thankfully never had any physical issues from running, but then again I’m a relatively new runner (just a year so far, my first half marathon is in April!) so I’m sure there’s plenty of time and opportunity for me ahead as well…

    The real reason I’m commenting is that I just wanted to let you know – your blog has been (and continues to be) a HUGE inspiration for me as a runner. Keep rocking it! 🙂

  2. Hunt

    Runner’s knee means many things, not just ITB syndrome. I find it usually refers to Patellofemoral pain syndrome. I’ve been sidelined by ITB several times, most recently Boston 2014, but managed to run pain free following lots of PT and hip/glute strengthening. I’ve come down with it again two weeks ago and am once again trying to recover in time for Paris on April 3rd. ITB syndrome is no fun and even a mix of cross training and hip and glute strengthening has not guaranteed pain free running.

    • charlotte

      That’s interesting, I’ve only ever heard it as ITB syndrome! Hope you recover in time and enjoy Paris, it’s a great race!

  3. Mickey

    Fingers crossed it gets better before the Marathon! I’ve deferred my ballot place for this year due to my dodgy shins, so hopefully 2017 will be the year for me!

    • charlotte

      So sorry to hear that! Hope 2017 is great for you!!

  4. misswheezy

    This is pretty much what I’m struggling with at the moment as well, although I haven’t had an MRI to confirm. I hope yours heals soon! I’ve had it for nearly a year, although I’ve kept running through it which I probably shouldn’t have, ha! x

    • charlotte

      Oh poor you Beki, hope you can work through it! Running through it isn’t working for me!

  5. Cathryn

    ITB is such a pain, I’m sorry about the set-back. I had it a few years ago and what seemed to cure it were some very cheap insoles that I wore in all my shoes, it went away in about 2 weeks. This is the link.

    I have no link with the company at all, I just really liked the product. For 16 quid, it might be worth it. Hope that helps and that you mend quickly.

    • charlotte

      Thanks so much, will check it out!

  6. TaleOfTwoRuns

    So sorry to hear that! Hope it heals fast!

  7. Chloe

    Oh man, this is the worst! Currently training for my first marathon (the Brighton one), and have been majorly sidelined by the same thing, my IT band is tight! Luckily I’m now working on it with a physio, who has currently taped up my knee (apparently I have runners legs). I’m sure you have, but have you tried foam rolling? The pain, but also the sweet sweet relief afterwards makes it all worth it.

  8. Lauren (@PoweredbyPB)

    I had ITBS when I was training for Berlin marathon and it pretty much ruined my entire training, in the end I did the race and managed to get to about 18 miles before it got really bad. I would never have even got to the start line had I not started doing daily strength, stretches and foam rolling, combined with the kinetic revolution 30 day program- it was amazing once I started doing these how quickly the pain went away. Wishing you a speedy recovery!


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