Struggling With Quadriceps Pain After Running? Could Massaging Your IT Band Help?

Posted on: 26 July 2017

If you enjoy the "runner's high" you get from distance running or rely on jogging as a way to lose weight, you may find yourself dismayed by pain, stiffness, and soreness in your IT band—the long strip of muscle and tissue that runs from your outer hip to the outside of your knee across your quadriceps. Left untreated, IT band pain can cause you to change your gait while running to avoid extra pressure, often compromising your joint health in the process. Read on to learn more about the structure and function of your IT band and how you can minimize pain while protecting your joints during a run. 

What does your IT band do?

Your IT (or iliotibial) band is a wide, long strip of fibrous tissue designed to hold your knee in a stable position and allow the knee to flex in both directions. This band can get quite a workout during any high-intensity, high-impact workout (like jogging, distance training, a vigorous tennis game, or any other workout that requires repeated squats, lunges, and other leg movements).

Problems can arise when your IT band becomes hyperextended (often through hard workouts with insufficient rest breaks in between) or suffers from other overuse injuries. In an effort to ease your pain and soreness, you may unconsciously change your gait while walking, running, or exercising—because your IT band is designed to keep your knee protected during even hard workouts, changing the angle at which your knee bends relative to your IT band can put your joint health at risk. Over time and without treatment, you may notice that your IT band pain has abated but you're now dealing with knee pain and stiffness or even a clicking sound when you make certain movements. 

How can you treat IT band pain caused by running?

One of the best (and easiest) ways to treat pain along your IT band is to seek sports massage (or even perform your own massage at home). Using your knuckles or the heel of your hand to press down your IT band from your hip to your knee can bring nearly instant relief; a sports masseuse can engage in even more in-depth massages that may leave your IT band vibrating for hours after treatment.

You'll also want to be cognizant of your workout intensity, being sure to give yourself plenty of rest days when you begin to notice pain and soreness increasing. "No pain, no gain" shouldn't be your workout motto when it comes to high-impact exercises that implicate your knee and other lower body joints.