Here’s What You Need To Know…
1. The IT Band is a commonly problematic area for strength and endurance athletes that causes pain, dysfunction and decreases performance when not addressed properly.
2. This 2-Day IT Band Cure will directly address a few key areas of concern for both mobility and tissue quality, while reteaching movement patterns to lock in that pain-free movement for good.
3. A lack of quality squat mechanics and the ability to execute a pristine foundational squat can cause a number of orthopedic problems for athletes. Here’s a quick fix to clean up even the most brutal squats!
Improving Mobility Won’t Always Improve Tissue Quality
Sometimes your body hurts because you don’t have enough range and you’re jamming the body to its end range trying to achieve something. For those times mobility work is definitely a great option.
But other times the restriction you have may not be because of lack of range. It could be because the muscle itself is all jammed up. Imagine a rubber band with a knot tied in it. If you pull at both ends of the band it will stretch, just like your muscle will with a knot in it. But it won’t necessarily stretch evenly on both sides of the knot.
The 2-Day IT Band Cure
The IT Band is one of those areas that often causes problems – especially in distance athletes, with triathletes having more troubles than straight runners or cyclists – and the cause isn’t always lack of range.
This 2-Day IT Band cure video I made shows how I cured my IT Band issues only two weeks out from an Ironman 70.3 race allowing me to race pain free on the day and achieve a ten-minute PR.
Following the RAIL system of my good friend Perry Nickleston I begin with some soft tissue work to help unglue those knots in the muscles. And when it’s IT Band troubles you’ll always find big lumps in the glutes, so get stuck in with a hard ball. The key for the ball in the glutes is not just to stick the ball into the out edge of the hip, but to place that side on stretch, as I do in the video, by placing that foot on the opposite knee. Keep rolling around until you find that spot that is most painful then sit there and let the pressure on the ball, and your breathing, do the work. Take at least ten deep diaphragmatic breaths here making sure to relax as much as possible, no matter how painful.
The reason you need both a passive and active stretch is simple – passive stretching does a great job at reducing tone in the muscle but is awful for strength work. In other words, while passive stretching allows the muscle to relax – perfect if there is a massive knot in it – it’s lousy pre-workout, and can even lead to injury if not followed by activation exercises. The active version of pigeon that follows allows the muscle to work into the new range allowed by the use of the ball in the glutes, as well as the passive pigeon stretch. Making the muscle do some work in the new range helps the body to “own it” and make the newfound range permanent.
Finally, you need to get the body working as a complete unit. Any exercise will work that involves the hips as the primary driver and links the body together, but the single leg deadlift is the best in my opinion.
Utilizing IT Band Function with Quick Fixes For The Squat
One of the biggest issues for people in our gym is their squat. I’m a big advocate of flexibility work, but not with a goal of the splits. My end goal in most cases is to end up with a comfortable deep squat pattern.
One of the drawbacks for people is that our legs get told all day long that they only need to move to a certain point. Our hips get stuck at about ninety degrees. Our inner thighs don’t open all the way out. It’s all because of sitting. Here’s how we address the squat with quick correctives that lead our clients to more training and less dysfunction:
To build a good squat first we’re going to use this squat stretch against the wall. It’s really important that you don’t allow the shin to be at 90 degrees to the knee. If you watch the video you’ll see that the foot is drawn in as close to the butt as possible – we want to maximize both dorsiflexion as well as hip flexion.
In an ideal setting you’ll be able to get the feet almost to your butt while preventing them from turning out. You’ll be surprised at how much your shins and inner thighs will burn from this. Deal with it. Stretching isn’t all hugs and rainbows. In fact, I think it’s the single most painful thing an adult can do. I advise staying in this position for at least five minutes. You need to resist the temptation to move around much, no matter how painful it gets. Every time you move you need to start the timer again thanks to the safety mechanism built into our stretch reflex.
Next we need to pattern it all. As I said above, static stretching can be awful if placed immediately before strength work with no activation drills in between. This next drill is an excellent drill if you use all the parts. Firstly, grab a thin band and wrap it over a bar. Next, grab a towel and place it just above your knees. The band and the towel help to activate a lot of muscles that you need to squat properly – the abdominals and the abductors.
As you begin to bend down you need to squeeze the towel between your knees. You’ll notice that as you pull on the band your abs will light up. That’s great as they have an important role while squatting and most people’s have gone MIA. The cool thing about squeezing the towel is that the circuit that the abductors are on also contains your obliques, and you need them too for squatting. So don’t just bend over and touch your toes as you miss all that cool extra activation work. Once you’ve done ten reps it’s time to squat.
About The Author
A lifelong athlete and coach, Andrew Read has seen it, then tried it, and then tested it. He has trained hundreds of athletes and clients up to Olympic and World Championship levels. He has tested his theories on himself. He is both a black belt and an Ironman and has been honing the craft of training for over twenty years.
Having trained alongside industry leaders in everything from Taekwondo to Brazilian jiu jitsu to boxing, as well as kettlebells, running, triathlon, and weightlifting, Andrew has a wealth of experience to draw from. He is not tied to a single tool or method, but has an extensive tool box from which he can choose the right solution for each athlete.
His training methods are blue collar and basic. There are no attempts to hack performance. Just age-old methods crafted to guarantee improved performance. He has worked hard to meld the training of mind and body together through his three simple rules on training – turn up, don’t complain, never quit.
Andrew has recently published a book called “Run Strong” is available now!