Today is the first installment in hopefully a series of posts by my brother Mike Bard, who has taken part in a couple of races, and in general is much more in shape then I am. Today he talks about working through IT Band issues, and the importance of preventative steps to avoid injury.
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Depending on which statistic you want to believe anywhere from 45% to 80% of all recreational athletes sustain an injury in a given year. From personal experience I know that nothing is more frustrating than being sidelined by a nagging injury. During the final mile of my first ever triathlon a sharp pain radiating from my knee made it increasingly difficult to extend my leg. By the end of the race I was running completely flat-footed, almost dragging my left leg behind me. A few doctor visits and an MRI later I learned that I had developed Iliotibial band syndrome, a very common injury for runners. The cause? Without using medical terms, my butt and interior thigh muscles were weak and my outside thigh muscles were like Hulk Hogan’s. As I ran, the larger muscle would pull my knee cap out of alignment causing pain and swelling. So how can we keep this from happening to you?
Great question! Prevention here is the key and from what I have read and experience the best strategy is to add a light strength training routine into your workout plan. It doesn’t take much; you just need to think about strengthening your entire body, not just the leg muscles used for running. After all, who knew that a weak butt could cause my knee to hurt?!
There are a million books on the subject, I’ve read two…ish, maybe skimmed a third. From them I built a quick routine that I do once or twice a week, sometimes after a short run. Obviously access to a gym gives me more variety, but with a few modifications and some soup cans most exercises be done at home.
For the first few weeks do 2-3 sets w/ 15-20 Reps, light weights. The idea isn’t to kill yourself, look like a meatball or bulk up; it is to tone muscle while still losing weight.
1. Standing Squat
2. Front Lunge
3. Push ups
4. Dumbbell chest press
5. Seated Row
7. Plank, try to build up to 30 or 45 seconds.
That’s it! There are a ton of variations, get creative, watch a few you tube videos and get to work. The results will be apparent, you will feel stronger, burn more calories and hopefully stay away from the physical therapist.