I’m coming back from an IT band injury. Do you have any exercises to help me avoid the same problem in the future? I run mostly on the treadmill three or four times per week and haven’t done strength work. —Marcey
I’m glad you’re on the mend, and you’re wise to be thinking about strength training. Making it part of your routine will help correct the common muscular imbalances caused by sitting and the repetitive motion of running. I’ve outlined a Runner’s Strength Routine that can be done anywhere here. This is a comprehensive program that will strengthen your upper body, core, and lower body. It’ll improve your balance, too.
If you’re looking for specific exercises to prevent IT band syndrome, there are a few moves (listed below) you can easily add to your routine. The first one is perfect for days when you have limited time. The second has been shown in research to be one of the most effective exercises for hip strengthening. Both activate the gluteus medius, the muscle that stabilizes the pelvis and helps prevent the hip-dropping that can cause ITBS.
The Treadmill Incline Side-Step Cool Down.
We all have days when we’re lucky to get in a 30-minute run. When that happens, it’s easy to leave out the “extra stuff”—the flexibility and strength moves that can help us prevent injuries. The Side-Step is a simple move you can weave into your cooldown. Here’s how to do it:
Slow the treadmill to 1 mph and increase the incline to four to five percent.
Step on the side rails and off the moving tread. While holding on to the right rail, turn your body to the right, and step sideways onto the slowly moving tread, leading with your left leg.
Keep your toes pointed forward while side-stepping and focus on leading with your left heel as you reach to take another step, as well as pushing through your right heel. Side-step on each side for one minute.
Repeat two more times.
The Side-Lying Leg Raise (Hip Abduction)
Although this exercise appears wimpy, studies prove it to be one of the most effective for activating your gluteus medius. It is a simple move and allows you to target a specific muscle group. If you’re trying to perform a complicated standing move that requires balance and supporting muscle groups, the target muscle can lost in the shuffle while the dominant groups take over. Know that simple can be more effective, especially as you set out to strengthen your glutes. Here’s how to do it:
Start on your right side with your left hip aligned over your right and your body in a straight line.
Using your left hand for support on the floor, raise your top leg up, hold for two seconds, then more slowly lower for two to three seconds to the starting position.
Lead with your heel, with your toes slightly lower.
Perform two to three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each side.
Sometimes the solutions are simpler than the problem. Weave these simple hip-strengthening exercises into your regular routine to improve hip stability and reduce the risk of aches, pains, and injuries down the road.