IT band problems? Here’s what to know if you run or cycle…

ITB injuries are a common problem we see in our clinics especially when runners or cyclists are training for a race.

This normally presents itself as a vague pain or extreme tightness down the outside of the thigh, either after finishing an exercise session or towards the end of a session.

Similarly to shin splints this injury is more likely to happen when increasing the amount of exercise being done. It’s why marathons, 10ks, Tough Mudders and The Big Cycle tend to result in busier clinics for us at JMC Physiocures, as people regularly pick these injuries up during training.

tired runners.jpg

What is the IT band and what does it do?

ITB stands for Iliotibial band meaning it is a band which connects the ilium (crest of the pelvis) and the tibia (shin bone forming part of the knee). It also has attachments to other muscles such as quadriceps and hamstrings. Although there is some debate in physiotherapy about the range of functions of the ITB, its main purpose is to support the pelvis when standing to allow the opposite leg to swing through. It does this by pulling on the pelvis along with the gluteal muscles to lift the opposite side of the pelvis.

As you can imagine if you are training for a marathon or doing the Edinburgh to Glasgow cycle, this movement is repeated multiple times. If this gets inflamed or aggravated then it becomes increasingly difficult to keep exercising.

What causes it?

An exact cause for ITB syndrome or an agreed test/set of symptoms has yet to be identified. A sudden increase in training frequency or intensity appears to be linked with it. In my opinion, this problem typically comes with a muscle imbalance of the muscles of the hips and knees. I don’t like to use the term muscle weakness for this as the majority of people I see with ITB problems are fit and exercise regularly meaning they could not be described as weak.

The muscle imbalance can come from focusing on one type of exercise and forgetting to balance this out by working the opposing muscles. As all muscles have an opposite muscle which pulls against them; if one is stronger than the other this can lead to pain. This can prove difficult to manage as a number of sports require a slight muscle imbalance to improve performance, think of Andy Murray’s shoulder and the force he needs to generate forward compared to how much he has to move backwards. If the training programme is correct, balanced, and spread over the appropriate period of time then muscle imbalance can be a positive. If you are confused then welcome to the world of physio!


How do I treat it?

As with all injuries prevention is better than cure. If you are planning to enter a race which is longer than you are used to, or if you are trying to improve your times (See our blog on marginal gains 😉) then starting with a well-thought out training plan is essential. This should allow you enough time to gradually increase your distance, load (resistance) or speed without any sudden changes. It is also important to consider how you will vary your training by introducing rest days, weight training for a variety of muscle groups, interval/speed work and possibly even yoga/pilates style gentle exercises.

Form is temporary class is permanent

For most sports I would say that getting your “form” or technique right is vital. Ensure your technique and equipment is right before starting any training. Ask a cycling club about your bike set-up, invest in new footwear, or speak to a running club about your running style.

If you are reading this because it is too late and you already have some pain then there is some good and bad news.

The good news is that it will get better, total rest isn’t likely to help and your physio can provide advice and treatment.

The bad news is that this will probably mean altering your current training schedule to reduce the exposure and will require an effort from you to work on exercises to address any imbalances.

There are also a number of techniques that your physio can use such as massage, mobilisations, and acupuncture which may provide some short term relief although the priority is to get your exercise regime correct.

If you have any questions or would like an assessment for thigh pain then please get in touch with us at  or by calling 01236 425 661 to book an appointment in Lanarkshire today.


Back pain

Five tips to help manage back pain

Back pain is one of the most common problems we see within all of our clinics. Follow these five simple tips to help manage it.

1. Don’t panic

Back pain is rarely serious or caused by damage and the vast majority of problems fully resolve. It is very unlikely that you will require an X-ray or MRI scan and most of the findings of these such as bulging discs, loss of joint space, and “wear and tear” are normal age-related changes, much like grey hair or William’s receding hairline!

2. Stay active

Rest does not help back pain other than the first day or two. As soon as you can, get moving and try to do as much of your normal daily activities as possible, including work!

This doesn’t mean you have to throw a leotard on and get down to the gym but simple walking, gentle exercises (see here) and ordinary movement is likely to help you get back to normal quickly. It is natural for this to be uncomfortable or sore; so take short rests before moving again.

Read more: IT band problems? Here’s what to know if you run or cycle…


3. Use painkillers

Current guidelines recommend the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to manage low back pain. These can be taken along with paracetamol or over-the-counter solpadol, but always consult your GP to ensure you are safe to take these. Reduced pain allows you to move easier, so painkillers are part of the cure and are not just there to “cover up the pain”.

4. Try these exercises

These simple exercises can be done easily in the comfort of your own home with no equipment required. Do them as you feel able and stop if they become too painful (you can always try again later).

Read more: New Year’s Resolution to get fit? Here’s how to avoid injury…

We also have a few posts on our Facebook page with simple exercises:

5. See a qualified physiotherapist for an appointment or advice

We may be biased but seeing a physiotherapist is one of the best places to start for straightforward advice. This isn’t always about getting massaged, manipulated or otherwise beat-up! Although there are a number of techniques physios can use to help control your pain, the most important thing we do is teach you how to manage it.

At JMC Physiocures we aim to provide you with simple straightforward advice on what may be causing your problem, how long it may last and what is likely to help speed up your recovery; so if your back pain is not improving using the simple tips above, then please get in touch.

Call us on 01236 425 661 if you would like to make an appointment or to speak with one of our senior physiotherapists for expert advice.



New Year’s resolution to get fit? Here’s how to avoid injury

It’s a comment that we hear all the time in clinic and one that I’ve even muttered myself, “I’m going to get fit this year, it’s a new start for me.”

After the joys of the festive period there is often a renewed enthusiasm that the new year will bring opportunity for change and a new lease of life.

The new year eagerness to get fit can lead to starting a new 30-day challenge; or to run around the park everyday; or build up fitness to compete in a marathon, or even the Tough Mudder 2018!  All are excellent ideas and a great way to motivate yourself for the month of January, however more often than not you fail to complete your challenge to the end of the month and frequently that can be due to INJURY!

We are guilty of throwing ourselves in at the deep end and not approaching our new training program in a sensible manner, especially if the activity is new to you.



Here are a few tips to avoid injury this coming year, and set you on the way to achieving your goals:


  • Find a good park that is suitable for walking or running. It is more stimulating to run in a park than on the streets, and the ground can be softer and more forgiving on the joints.
  • Exercise in the appropriate shoes, sports trainers that are light will help keep your feet comfortable and encourage you to exercise more.
  • Begin with gentle interval training for the first few sessions. This may be cycling 3km and resting for 500m, or running 1km and walking 500 m, then repeating as able.  Know your limits and build up slowly.
  • Give yourself a few recovery days between sessions to help deal with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), this can sometimes provide people with an excuse as they are “too sore or too tight”.  However, DOMS is best overcome by light walking and general movement.
  • Set a goal and have an overall plan, as this will help motivate you on those wet mornings when you can’t get out of bed early to exercise, or those dark nights when you want to skip the gym.


  • Don’t exercise every day, training daily will cause an excessive build up of lactate acid, fatigue, and wear and tear if you are not conditioned to it. Having every second day as a rest-day will reduce your risk of an injury.
  • Don’t run more than 5km or start with high intensity exercise on your first session. Trying to work through tightness or pain is more likely to cause injury
  • Don’t set unrealistic goals as you will inevitably pick up an injury when trying to achieve something that was beyond your level of fitness.
  • Don’t ignore warning signs: if you are starting to feel pain or an ache then it’s probably best to ease up with the training and avoid being afraid to miss a session. Missing one session could make a big difference and possibly prevent you form missing more in the future if you choose to ignore it.

The most important piece of advice I can give is to be sensible and patient with your training.  If you’re new to exercise and expect to run daily for 30 days or to do 50 press-ups for 30 days, you should be more reasonable in your expectations. It is unrealistic for the novice trainer to accomplish and more for someone better conditioned to regular daily training.


Secondly, you have to enjoy your exercise otherwise you will never stick at it long-term and your New Year’s resolution will be binned by February.  Maintaining a long-term exercise program is correlated with enjoying the program.  Remember exercise can range from walking, cycling, running, weightlifting, dancing, golf, tennis, aerobic classes and much more.  Try them all until you find something that work for you.

If you want some helpful advice or treatment for any persistent injury then come and see one of our experienced members of staff at JMC Physiocures, 01236 425 661 or 07808 552 520.