I was back at Radiance PhysioFit for my second Physiotherapy session. But this time I was assigned to their in-house Rehab and Sports Massage Therapist, Seishen, who would do a follow-up and to also check how I’ve progressed so far. If you had read my first post
, you would have known that I was having some knee problem ( it’s not because of aging!). Well, I have been doing some of the exercises as suggested by Senior Physiotherapist, Declan and followed some of his advices to lessen the pain felt on my knees. Though
I stopped experiencing pain in knee during Body Combat classes, I still do have that the achy feeling on my knees whenever I climb up the flight of stairs.Oh, please don’t tell me that I’m getting old!
So during my second physiotherapy session, Seishen did a brief assessment of my leg joints and he discovered that my IT band is super tight. I responded with an ‘Ouch!’ whenever he presses hard on the tight spots along the IT band. He explained that my tight IT bands could be the cause of my knee problem as well.
What’s IT band?
IT band (aka iliotibial band) is a stiff connective tissue (fascia) which runs along the outside of the thigh from the pelvis to the shin bone. If this IT band contracts to much, it can pull your knee cap out of alignment and causes inflammation in the knee joints or pain when bending the knee.If your IT bands are tight or inflamed, you could be suffering from the IT band syndrome like I do. In fact, most of us have got really tight IT bands and it isn’t a good thing when any part of your muscles or connective tissues are tight or under stress.
So, what’s IT band syndrome (ITBS)?
It’s a condition where the IT band is tight or inflamed and it’s a common injury afflicting runners where pain is experienced at the sides of the knees. In my case, I might have overused my IT bands while doing exercises involving hip and knees movements and underused my hip abductor or inner thigh muscles.
If left untreated, the condition is likely to worsen or it could very well be your next good excuse to remain inactive. Even if you are experiencing knee pain, it doesn’t meant that you have to stop exercising!
I was thankful that I discovered this earlier so that I could seek prevention strategies and ways to treat it before it gets worse. And this is what physiotherapy is all about. It’s not only about getting treated but it’s also about finding out whether you’ve been exercising safely and correctly to achieve your fitness goals. It would be great if I could exercise without worrying if it’s going to cause pain in knees! And what’s my ultimate goal? To get really tone arms, tight abs with sexy legs. Think Victoria’s Secret model.
My IT bands are overworked because I’ve been engaging the muscles attached to the IT band instead of using my inner thigh muscles and glutes. To engage the right muscle groups and strengthen them, I was told to perform wall squats as part of my daily exercise routine to treat my knee problem in addition to the exercises I’ve been taught how to do during my first physiotherapy session. Wall squats are great for strengthening your quads.
To do a wall squat, you will need to make sure your knees are at 90 degrees and your thighs must be parallel to the floor. Make sure your knee joints are over the ankle joints for better stability. Then, hold it there for 30 to 60 seconds. Looks and sounds easy? You legs are going to feel wobbly after that! There will be a burning sensation in your thighs too!
You could also add a ball between your legs to further engage the inner thigh muscles.
Side-lying leg lifts
Another exercise to engage the abductor muscles is the side-lying leg lifts. If you do Pilates regularly, you will find this exercise very familiar. This exercise helps to stabilise the hip and work your glutes (butt muscles). Performing many repetitions of this exercise could also help you achieve a perkier butt.
To do the side-lying leg lifts, you will need to lie on your side and stretch out both legs straight then cross the top leg over the bottom leg. You can use your arms to prop yourself up or rest your head on the arms. Then lift your bottom leg up and down. Do about 15 reps for each sides.
IT Band Stretch
One of the best ways of stretching the IT band is to use a foam roller to massage the tissues and muscles running along the IT band. It can be very painful for those with super tight IT bands. I was mumbling the ‘ouch’ words so many times that I could string them up to form a rap song. But then again, as the saying goes, “No pain, no gain”. The pain kicks in when you roll the sides of your thighs along the foam roller but after a while, when you get use to the pain. I find it quite ‘shiok’ (super satisfying) as the foam roller releases the tension in the leg muscles too. It’s like doing a body massage or sport massage.
In fact, many people have really tight IT bands. During my last Yin yoga session, everyone else around me was cringing in pain while doing the foam roller exercise. So, it isn’t just me who is having really tight IT bands after all!
You could also use a spiky ball to massage the IT bands nearer to your hips. Yes, it’s going to be really torturous with this spiky ball.
Amazingly, all these IT band stretching and quad strengthening exercises have gradually reduce the pain I felt in my knees. It may not have disappeared yet but at least, my knees don’t hurt anymore when I do Body Combat. It felt great to be able to get back on track and do my favourite exercises again!
Check out my next post on Muay Thai classes and Personal training session at Radiance PhysioFit !
Year 2013 is coming to an end. Have you started drafting your New Year resolutions yet? Be sure to include a fitness goal.
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