Many yoga practitioners are runners and cyclists, and too many of them know the aggravation and discomfort—even pain—that comes from iliotibial band syndrome. Until recently, ITB syndrome was thought to be caused by friction of the ITB rubbing against the thigh bone near the knee joint. Recent research may indicate, however, that pressure from the ITB on a fatty tissue between the ITB and the knee joint may in fact be causing the pain. This tissue is a nerve hub that experiences pain when extensive flexing and extending of the leg builds pressure on the fatty tissue.
The following are symptoms typical of ITBS:
• Pain above the knee
• Swelling or thickening of the ITB over the lateral femoral epicondyle
• Pain at the hip
• Clicking at the knee or hip
These are usually the causes of these symptoms:
• Increasing distance in training too rapidly
• Running downhill
• Cycling with feet in an excessive angle
• Running excessively on a crowned surface
• Weak hip abductor muscles
It took a masseuse, 2 chiropractors, a doctor, an X-Ray, and finally a physical therapist to diagnose me with ITBS 4 long years since my actual injury, which occurred while stretching for my black belt test in Tae Kwon Do. I’d practiced yoga for several years by then, but I stopped when it felt like my right leg was constantly trying to pop back into my hip.
I stopped riding horses because every time I posted for a trot, I would feel my hip clicking. I stopped training after receiving my black belt in Tae Kwon Do for many reasons, but one of them was that I couldn’t do a roundhouse kick with my right leg without rolling across the dojo floor whimpering in pain. I stopped running while studying abroad for a semester in Europe because there were too many hills and my right knee was having none of it.
Faced with stress related to mild weight gain (hey, there was a lot of pasta and gelato to be had in Italy), I rekindled my relationship with yoga and was met with comfort—until the day I fell off a 10 ft. high wall in a vineyard onto my back and wrist, effectively spraining the latter. I should have gone to a hospital but I insisted I was okay (as I cried myself to sleep that night in excruciating agony). Three weeks later, I tried to do a simple plank pose and crashed to the floor.
It took an entire year to resume my yoga habits, and although all my wrist takes is a little warming up, my right hip remains my greatest obstacle. It hurts to do yoga and yet I know it is yoga that will ease my pain. This, of course, takes time and patience, and I am still on this journey. The following poses, however, are geared toward runners and sufferers of ITBS. Although my progress is slow, it is progress nonetheless.
• Cow face forward fold
• Outer hamstring twist
• Outer thigh twist
• Half lord of the fishes twist
• Cross-legged reclining twist
• Frog legged pose
If you suspect that you suffer from ITBS, consult a physician or physical therapist before attempting these poses. Afterward, if any of the poses are unfamiliar, most can be viewed in detail on YouTube or www.yogajournal.com. Be gentle with your body and with yourself. Happy healing.
Author Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where recently she’s been researching the highest paying college degrees around along with some low paying degrees you might want to avoid. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.