I was talking with a friend this weekend and she mentioned IT band issues in her fiancé after he trained for and completed an Ironman. She said he doesn’t really do these things any more because of this issue. It is not uncommon at all for runners and/or cyclist to experience IT band problems. Often times doctors will prescribe rest and stretching to improve the situation. Unfortunately, much like my friend’s fiancé, people give up what they love because the problem persists.
If you have tried everything else without success – why not try getting out of line? What do I mean by that?? Running and cycling are by nature very linear movements. What the means is you are moving forward in a fairly straight line and yes there may be some turns here and there but the primary movement is linear – back to front movement. What happens when we do one thing over and over again – we develop strength in that area. So … if you are continually moving forward with force and speed, you are continually building up quads and hamstrings with little emphasis on adductors and abductors (the muscles used to bring your legs together from a V position or open them to a V position, for example). If there is one thing Pilates teaches us, it is that we need balance in our bodies!!
In Pilates class we strive to create that balance, and for that reason, we do not just do linear movements. We do lateral (side to side) movements as well. I find runners and cyclist tend to have weaker inner thighs. They may rationalize that they don’t really need those muscles for their sport of choice but that would be a wrong conclusion! Those muscles are key to helping create balance in the body and to support their primary movers. Over-developed quads, for example, can put pressure on the knee cap or pull at the IT band. Strong lateral muscles counter-balance this reaction and create a strong balanced leg whether at rest on in action.
Whether you are a competitive runner or cyclist or a weekend warrior, you could benefit from having balance and ‘getting out of line’. It’s all about injury prevention and not ending up on the sidelines! Pilates has a sneaky way of giving us what we need even though we may not realize it. Come see for yourself and get out of line in Pilates class!