Getting out of pain: How to relieve iliotibial band syndrome
If you’re trying to heal from ITB syndrome, you’ll need to address all three factors that are playing a part in it.
First, you should reduce or take a break altogether from the activity that is overusing your knee joint in order to allow the inflammation to subside. While it can be difficult to take time off from an activity that you love, you must give your body a chance to heal—otherwise you will continue to make your pain worse, and potentially cause permanent damage to your knee joint.
As you gradually resume physical activity, I strongly recommend cross-training: doing two, three, or more different types of workouts that use your body in different ways (like running, swimming, and yoga). Cross-training is the best way to achieve a high level of physical fitness while avoiding repetitive-use injuries.
Second, you must address the chronic tension in the muscles that attach to your IT band. This is why static stretching is often recommended to relieve ITB syndrome. Unfortunately, due to the stretch reflex (myotatic reflex), static stretching will have little to no effect on the level of tension in these muscles. If you’re not familiar with the stretch reflex, be sure to read What is the Stretch Reflex (Myotatic Reflex)?
In order to release the chronic tension in the tensor fascia latae, gluteus maximus, and gluteus medius, you must pandiculate them. Pandiculation contracts and releases muscles in a specific way so that accurate biofeedback is sent to the nervous system, allowing the resting level of tension in the muscles to be reset.
Pandiculation also addresses the third factor in ITB syndrome: imbalanced posture and movement patterns. Imbalanced use of the body is caused simply by muscle memory. As we repeat certain postures and movements over and over, our nervous system gradually makes the muscular contraction involved in these patterns automatic. This is why people who spend long hours at a computer develop rounded posture, and why weightlifters have tight lower backs; it’s all the result of muscle memory. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, check out The Pain Relief Secret.