Dear Iliotibial Band,
I apologize for having been so hard on you these past years. Though you are a thick bunch of outer soft tissue tissue enveloping the critical knee region of my leg, I never paid much attention.
You deserved better care. I was too busy conditioning the better-known quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and gluteal muscles. They were so much more visible and easy to show off. They had cool nicknames. People work their “quads” and “glutes,” but who says they’re working their “IL Tibs”?
Well, now I will. You are just as important as those muscles. While I flex and extend my knees thousands upon thousands of times while running, you have to rub against the hard and unforgiving lower surface of my femur bone. That deserves some props. That deserves a good stretch, regularly.
You started to get irritated from all this friction. You started to complain a little, but I ignored you. I didn’t want some no-name fiber to mess with my training. All you needed was a little stretch, but I didn’t have the time or concern for that.
One day, half way through a normal run, you started screaming at me. You cried in pain and begged me to stop. Finally, I listened because there was no choice.
For four months you were useless and irritable. You refused to go for a run, no matter how hard I tried to convince you. You only agreed to yoga, pilates, or swimming. Even long walks were a hassle and stairs were out of the question. This was infuriating.
I continually pressured you to run. “Don’t be such a syndrome,” I complained.
“You don’t understand me! ” you screamed, still sore. “You want me to work again? Get stronger hip abductors! Get a better gluteus medius! Stop being so bow-legged! Quit running on uneven surfaces! Lay off the hills! Stretch me once in a while!”
That was when I realized how negligent I was. I finally took care of you properly. I did daily side stretches and hip excercises. I joined the local pool for you. I even did research on how to treat you better.
When you finally agreed to run again, I was so grateful! Now that the abuse has stopped, I hope our relationship will continue to improve.
Iliotibial band? IL tibs? I promise to stretch you every day by leaning against the wall, crossing the outer right leg behind the left, and arching over with the right arm. I promise to hold for 30 seconds and do the same for the other side. I promise to cross train and give you at least one day off per week. I promise to go easy on the hills, especially on soft or uneven ground.
My bow-leggedness and long stride will be hard to change. No one is perfect.
I do promise to encourage other runners to treat your kind with respect.
Thank you for your patience and tenacity,