What my degree in IPE didn't teach me about baking, DIY, fitness, and life…
I know what you’re thinking: “WTF mate – (best said by a kangaroo at the end of the world – major props if you’re geeky enough to know what I mean =p) strengthen your hips if you’re having trouble with your knees???? Clearly someone decided to skip anatomy class.” And that’s what I was thinking too!
When I first started running a year ago, I started having trouble with my knee. At least, I thought it was my knee. Thanks to good old Uncle Google, I realised that it wasn’t my knee at all, it was my IT Band, a band of fiberous tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh from hip to knee. One of it’s major jobs is lateral knee stabilisation, which means it is used constantly in walking and running. As I started and increased my running regime, I was putting considerable strain on my poor little IT band.
You see, as I was strengthening part of my leg with the running, I was neglecting another part of my leg (namely the muscle that works in conjunction with the IT band). The result was a super tight IT band that was pulling on my knee, hence the pain. Boo pain. The basic advice is stretching and foam rolling. So I stretched and it helped a bit. I also started doing yoga/pilates more often and remembered some of my old ballet moves and the pain went away. Turns out, without really realising it what I actually started doing with a lot of the old ballet exercises was strengthening the muscles around my hip and IT band.
And that takes us back to the title of this post. New research suggests that strengthening, not stretching is the best way to deal with IT band issues. Here’s a look at some of the most effective strengthening exercises.
So, if you’ve just started running and you’re feeling the twinge, take a step back, slow down, and strengthen your hips. You may find it works wonders =)
Disclaimer – I’m not a medical professional. If you’re having real problems with your knees that aren’t going away, best to check it out with someone who is.