I’ve just finished a discovery session with one of our triathlete clients and had to share this quick little story with you.
Our discovery sessions are 15 minute chats with clients where we discuss their progress, solve challenges, simply get to know them, etc.
Anyway, 3 weeks ago he came to us as he literally couldn’t run without his knees wanting to explode. He had previously been foam rolling his IT band (Iliotibial band) as this is where he had felt the tension was coming from but he felt that it was only making things worse.
Running is obviously a major part of triathlons so the fact that he had to stop after 1 mile due to severe pain was a major problem and needed to be sorted.
3 weeks later and he’s pain free while running and also just feeling much stronger and evenly balanced.
So how did we go about it. Here’s the lowdown.
- Step one was an in depth assessment to look for any major weaknesses, tightness, restrictions, etc.
- Step 2 was we got him to stop running for a few weeks. He was still free to work on his other events and get into the gym but trying to fix an issue that is severely aggravated by running while the client keeps pounding the roads is simply a waste of time.
- Because he was in pain we referred out to a physio to get their expert advice and what was causing the problem in their opinion.
- With their advice and our assessment giving us a clear insight into this athlete, there was one MASSIVE red flag that could possibly be causing this athlete to be in pain- a super tight and over active TFL (tensor fasciae latae) which is involved in many actions including hip flexion, hip abduction, hip internal rotation and knee extension via IT Band
- We got to work releasing the workload that the TFL was under using a combination of soft tissue work, glute strengthening, core work, etc. and guess what- our athlete is back running pain free
A very important point to understand is that tension in the IT band is often caused by an overactive/tight TFL.
The TFL blends into the IT band and pulls on it like crazy when it gets overworked.
If you simply roll out your ITB without giving the issue arriving from your TFL the attention it deserves you’ll simply end up back at square one.
Remember I said that his athlete had previously been rolling his IT band like crazy and felt it was only making things worse. That was because tightness in his IT band was only the symptom. The actual cause (and the thing that he was missing) was his TFL being very overworked (weak glutes are a massive contributor this) and creating a massive imbalance in his hip. Because of this imbalance his knees were taking a beating.
We strengthen what needed to be strengthened and released the tension where it needed to be released. We built all this into a program that kept the our client engaged and strengthened his mindset that even though he is in pain when running, he is still very capable of getting in great training sessions.
What was the result? Pain free running plus a massive boost in confidence.
Another fine example of the real world applications of a sports performance strength and conditioning program.
Take home points
- Don’t ignore pain
- Find a great physio
- Get your ass in the gym with a great coach
- Click here to find out more about our sports performance program
Any questions just pop them into the comments box below
Stay healthy guys.