Tag: ITB

Delta Park Run

This weekend, I ran my first Delta Park Run with Ross and Lanz.  The ‘Park Run‘ takes place in a number of countries.  The Delta Park run is a weekly 5km Saturday run at 08:00 with a decent-sized group of people – 357 people ran it this week.  Due to it being in a park, it can be considered more of a trail run than anything else.

As part of my training for the Sportman’s Warehouse 10km, I thought it’d be a good idea to try something a little bit different to make sure I’m race ready in November.

The start of the run was fun, with a beautiful downhill – the best – and an awesome vibe.  Cute dogs running around.  Shirtless men running with dogs.  Great scenery in general. ;)

However, a little way into the run, we came to a massive uphill that was RIDICULOUS.  I am not good at running uphill, tried for a while and eventually had to walk the majority of it.  This automatically made me feel like a failure because I hate having to walk – if I don’t run the entire way, it feels like I haven’t accomplished what I set out to.  After that uphill, it wasn’t too bad but that’s when the knee started acting up and my ITBS made an unwelcome appearance, meaning I had to walk the rest of the way to avoid doing further damage, on the advice of my bio.

I think it’s the fact that I was running on an uneven, different surface and was needing to jump around – this meant that my muscles, which are already pretty weak, struggled to stabilize me, and this once again caused my ITB to over-compensate.

So, I left the run feeling disillusioned, sad, useless.  I’ll be back at it again soon but I am really hard on myself with these things.  I think I have a love-hate relationship with running – when it goes well, it feels like the greatest exercise in the world but other times I will hate it with all my heart and soul.

I will definitely try the Park Run again, especially once my quads, glutes and hamstrings are stronger and then I’ll be able to better navigate the route and hopefully complete it without walking.  If you want to try the Park Run, check out www.parkrun.co.za for a list of areas, and how it works.  If you’re with Discovery, you get 500 points for participating – BONUS.  They are also always looking for volunteers, if you’re not into the running side of things.

Foam Rolling

After my issues with ITBS, a few people recommended that I acquire a foam roller which helps with self-myofascial release (SMR).  Basically, the foam roller provides similar benefits to that of a deep-tissue massage (without the expensive price tag).  This means it breaks down scar tissue and adhesions often caused my injury or overuse.  You can roll before you run, after you run, or both!  You can use it for any tight or sore muscles – but my main focus is on my ITB.  Now, the ITB is a ligament (and not a muscle), however, many people claim it can help release a tight ITB and I myself have felt the benefits of this.


It isn’t a pain-free process, and it is quite tender (especially over an inflamed ITB), but I have literally felt the incredible effects of rolling.  The foam roller is particularly helpful with ITBS when you use it for the glutes, TFL and hamstrings.  By removing tension from these muscle groups, you can decrease the ITBS you experience.

Although this helps greatly with ITB, you shouldn’t use it as a long-term treatment – rather seek professional advice as to what is causing your ITBS.

Here I demonstrate how to use the foam roller for ITBS – I cover the hamstrings, the TFL and the ITB itself.

Support yourself with your arms and hands behind you, and roll up and down the hamstrings slowly with moderate pressure until you feel a tender, tight or painful area.  Stop over this area and although it’s uncomfortable, try relax.  You will eventually feel the muscle release and relax – this can take a varying amount of time, but most people say between 5 and 30 seconds.  Go with what feels right for you.


If you want to increase the pressure you’re putting on your hamstrings, you can advance the move by putting one leg on top of the other.  This isn’t a pain tolerance test, though, and if it is too painful for direct pressure, rather change angles and gradually move over that area until it releases.

Hamstrings - Advanced
Hamstrings – Advanced

The TFL or ‘Tensor Fasciae Latae’ muscle is situated on the front of your thigh, more or less where your pocket would be and helps stabilize the hip in extension.  It is often thought to be a big contributor to ITBS in conjunction with the Gluteus Maximus, so it’s a good idea to roll out any tightness that may be in this muscle.


Lastly, is the ITB itself.  Now, remember that this isn’t a muscle, but I have found major relief from rolling over the ITB.  If you suffer from ITBS, this is a warning that it is extremely sensitive, and this should be done slowly and carefully, putting a lot of weight on your hands to reduce the pressure on your ITB.


If the pressure is too much, you can cross the unused leg over and place it on the floor in front of you for extra-stabilization and to reduce the pressure felt while rolling over the ITB.

ITB - Beginner
ITB – Beginner

Always seek medical attention prior to using a foam roller to ensure it is safe to use in your individual circumstances.  I bought my Foam Roller from Dischem for R299.99, but they are not hard to come by, and you can find them at all major sportsware outlets.  Check out breakingmuscle.com – I found this site very informative and helpful in understanding how to foam roll safely, and why it helps.  I’m definitely not looking back!

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

I’ve been suffering from ITBS which is one of the most common injuries in runners.  It is a common injury of the knee that results from an inflamed or tight iliotibial band.

It 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. IT band pain can be severe enough to completely sideline a runner for weeks, or even longer.  – Runner’s World

This has resulted in some pretty excruciating pain, that only kicks in when I’m already into my run (usually 2 or 3km into the run), and running downhill becomes unbearable.  I’d rather run up a hill – who’d have thunk it?!  There are a number of causes of ITBS.  As I have another 10km race coming up, I thought it’s best to figure out what was causing my ITBS, and sort out my problem before doing further damage, thereby exacerbating it into a chronic condition.  With that in mind, I went to see a Biokineticist.

The bio ran a number of tests – it was so interesting learning how and why they check things and how logically things work.  Through the testing, we discovered a number of issues.  I have a minor Lordosis of the spine (explaining my lower back pain) but this isn’t necessarily contributing to my ITBS, as well as a slightly skew pelvis (the right side of my pelvis is slightly more anterior than the left) – again, it’s unlikely this will be contributing in a large way to my injury.

The bio is 99% sure that the problem is due to two things: My VMO muscle (a part of the quads) which is misfiring.  The VMO is supposed to support my kneecap and provide stability to my knee.  With it misfiring, this means that my knee is not stable and with each step I take while running, I wreak havoc on my ITB which tries to counter it.  Another issue is that my glutes are very weak – this puts more strain on my ITB as it causes my pelvis to be more unstable.


The good news is that it is treatable.  I have a couple exercises to keep doing to retrain my VMO to fire properly and strengthen it, and further exercises to strengthen my glutes.  My bio believes that once I’ve done these things, my ITBS will be a distant memory.  I’ve also started using a foam roller to help with self-myofascial release (SMR) – more on this soon.

Wish me luck!