The Runner’s Rehab for IT Band Syndrome

So, the throbbing pain in your outer knee has gone from a bad state to I-think-I-can-only-crawl-from-now-on state. Rather than gritting your teeth and silently cursing yourself while trying to complete the laps, why not try more effective ways to put the pain to rest.

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Not quite a pain in the ass, but a nuisance nonetheless. IT band (Iliotibial band) injury is caused by weak glutes that decrease the knees’ stability, making them more prone to be pulled inward or outward while running. When the IT band gets inflamed, you start feeling a stinging sensation on the outer knee so stubborn that although the amount of icing you’ve done on your knee can inspire a second Frozen movie, the pain won’t budge. So, what’s the best way to deal with IT band injury?

IT band injury doesn’t necessarily spell the death of your running habit, but it’s better to recognise the warning signs of impending injury.”

Stop Running

Relax, you don’t have to start writing farewell and thank-you cards for your running squad just yet. This is only a temporary ‘retirement’, 2-14 days depending on how badly the band has been injured. Running while the injury is still fresh will be so painful, it’s self-torture. This will also slow down the recovery process. When in doubt about how long you should stay away from the track, follow this simple rule- when you can still feel the pain, don’t run.

Before you start listing all the hipster cafes to have brunch or deciding whether or not you should start being a devout Descendants of The Sun follower, now that you have so much down time, know that this isn’t a sleep-eat-repeat kind of rest. This is an active rest. You still have to do some rehab exercises and monitor your condition to ensure a proper comeback. After a week or so, you can do a test run to see if the pain persists.  It’s best to do the test run on flat ground or treadmill so that you don’t put too much pressure on the healing muscles. Chill on the mileage and time. It is OK to start slower than your usual running time and increase your running distance by no more than 10% a week.

Exercise Lightly

Yes, lightly. So probably, not a great time to use your Groupon vouchers on the Muay Thai or barre class trials. The light exercises will help with the blood circulation so that the band can recover ASAP. The kinds of exercises recommended are those with minimal impact forces, such as cycling or swimming, that wouldn’t traumatise the band further.

Light exercises would also help with the runner’s high withdrawal. Some of you may notice that your days aren’t quite the same without running. The bus ride feels longer, the chatter on the office becomes louder; the PMS gets worse, your resting bitch face…well, let’s just say it’s not resting anymore. All because you don’t get your daily supply of endorphins (or me-time that comes with running). Cross training with cycling or pool running could help with those plus you get to maintain your fitness during the rehab period.


As if we need a reason to get pampered. If the pampering part doesn’t convince you to get a massage already, here’s one good reason: sports massage on the IT band can help to release tension and eliminate stubborn knots on the tendon, which means faster recovery. Sports massage is also good to maintain your muscles in good condition and identify any weak spots to prevent future injuries.

But in case you’re on a budget (who aren’t nowadays?) or you’re just squirmish when a stranger touches your body, then you can use a foam roller or a tennis ball to apply pressure along the hips, glutes, quads and hamstring. Remember to avoid the IT band itself as you don’t want to aggravate the injury.  


We can’t think of a better time to start tackling the main issue head on (or butt on).  IT band injury occurs because of weak butt or hip. So, to prevent future injuries, you can do strengthening exercises to target these weak areas. It’s also recommended to do core workouts. While the core doesn’t impact the IT band directly, core muscles control the way your pelvis, hips, abs, and lower back work together. Conditioned core muscles would reduce the chances of many running injuries, and we don’t think anyone would complain if you have toned abs to go along with your stronger butt now.


IT band injury doesn’t necessarily spell the death of your running habit, but it’s better to recognise the warning signs of impending injury. It’s important to know your limit and not push your body too hard. Keeping up with the strengthening exercises will also help to prevent future injuries on the IT band and anywhere else. Not getting enough sleep, running after 5 hour OT or pulling an all-nighter, skipping recovery day, these are all going to come back and bite you in the butt (causing inflammation and sharp pain too). So, run smart!


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LIV3LY Editor
LIV3LY Editor

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