Monday, March 19, 2007

Iliotibial Blues

For the last few weeks, I've been enduring a serious case of ITBS. For those not familiar with the term-- and honestly, who would be?-- ITBS stands for iliotibial band syndrome. Say that three times fast.

The iliotibial band is a "superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee" (thank you, Wikipedia, for making me sound like I know what I'm talking about). It's one of those parts of my body I didn't know I had until I started running, so don't feel badly if you didn't know you have an iliotibial band. But trust me, you do. And trust me again, you don't want its syndrome.

So, this morning, after a couple of weeks of self-treating my ITBS with not-quite-enough-to-be-satisfactory improvement, I decided I'd better stop in and pay a visit to my good friend, the physical therapist. He took one look at me flashing a cheesy grin, rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Come on back", he said. "Let's fix you up again."

My physical therapist and I are like "this". We have a terrific relationship. He understands me. He understands my need to torture myself. And he doesn't judge me when I come in to see him once in awhile after torturing myself just a little too far.

I, in return, thank him by resisting the urge to kick him where the sun don't shine when he gives my ITB a deep tissue massage to speed its healing.

Just because it's called a "massage" doesn't mean it feels good. We're not talking about lying face down on a heated table in a candle-lit room with the trickling sound of water fountains and peaceful strains of new age music in the background, while a hunky masseur named Sven uses his magic hands and delicious minty lavendar-scented massage oil to make your eyes roll into the back of your head.


We're talking about lying on your side on a cold padded table under bright florescent lights while a guy named Paul squeezes some Ben-Gay smelling concoction onto his hands, then digs into the muscles of your thigh like he's kneading bread dough with his forearm, making you grit your teeth to keep from crying out for your mama.

But supposedly, it works (the massage, not crying out for your mama). So, I'm scheduled to go back a few more times in the next two weeks and along with the continued self-treatment, my P.T. is confident I'll be ready and raring to go come race day.

If I'm not, maybe I'll kick him where the sun don't shine after all, just for the heck of it. Then we'd both be singin' the blues.


See Zanne Run said...

omg ... went through this same sort of thing except it was my hip flexor - felt like the PT was just going to choke the life out of the offending muscle. hopefully - this will be your magic elixir & you'll be good as new come race day!!!

Justin said...

So far, in my running career, I have had plantar fasciits, pes bursitis, a metatarsal stress fracture, a nasty case of shin splints, and I sprained my foot fairly seriously about 6 weeks ago. Running is not for big people.

Good luck with your band.

runliarun said...

You did keep your sense of humor though. What more can one want?

Joe said...

Ah yes, ITBS. Mine flares up from time to time but I have it under control at the moment. Here's some of my tips:
- Self massage with foam roller.
- If only one leg has it, spend more time on stretching and strengthening that leg than you do on the other leg.
- Substitute swims for runs until the pain is under control.
- Put an ankle weight on your ankle. Sit on the sofa or a chair. Raise that leg until it is parallel to the ground. Hold that position for 3 to 5 minutes. You should feel a burn on the lower, medial part of your quad. Repeat 2 to 3 times. Watch TV while doing it.

Jim said...

Fun blog, Angie! I'll be keeping tabs on your progress as you work towards Salt Lake.
Happy first day of Spring.