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Old 10-28-2013   #1
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 34
Paddling and IT Band Pain

I started kayaking this season and whenever I am in my boat for a decent amount of time, my IT bands tighten up, often severely enough that I struggle to walk after getting out of the boat. My boat is a LL Freeride 57. My question is whether this issue could be caused by outfitting, the nature of a play boat, or technique and what I can do to remedy the situation. I have gotten out a decent amount and would have expected to see improvement if the solution was developing sufficient tone.

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Old 10-29-2013   #2
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 535
i've had IT band issues for about 6 years now so the following is what i've found that works. it started after 16 mile hike one day. it's very treatable and only comes back when i'm inactive due work/life and get complacent on dealing with it for periods of time.

-sorry in light of eric leaper's BS book spam fest here but get either a used copy of The Pain Free Triathlete by Julie Donnelly or her more recent book that is more broad based sans athlete Treat yourself to Pain free Living by her as well. It discusses all the treatments through deep tissue massage, stretches, what areas to focus on, ect. Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living (Print) - Books

Working out the knots that are pulling the IT band tight is one of the big keys to getting rid of IT issues. Think of your IT band as a rubber band. Knots along the outside of your thigh and in your gluts are pulling it tight along your knee causing the band to spasm and inflame. the key is to loosen that up.

the deep tissue massage will hurt like hell when you find those knots. keep at it with a foam roller. eventually you'll want something even harder like a PVC tube or for in the field work, a nalgene bottle. it sucks. it hurts. there is no way getting around it. there are vids on youtube these days, as well... "IT band foam roller",ect. allot more info these days than just 6 years ago, for sure.

the other long term angle is to start cross training. adding in biking has been my biggest help and maintaining it/balancing out muscle groups,ect.

since part of the issue is pain from inflammation, don't be afraid to down some anti-inflammatory stuff like Aleve while building up your core strength and working through it.

the patt strap helped me too while rebuilding strength and long backpacking trips. it's not a cure, just an aid.
fabrifoam? Products - PattStrap

the biggest thing to understand is with ITBS is that the location of the pain(knee) is NOT the source of the problem. the source is higher up in your thigh,gluts and psoas muscles. This is such a key concept to get in your brain about treating it.

also, don't dismiss/confuse deep tissue massage or trigger points,ect with some mystical, get-in-touch-with-your-shakra mumbo jumbo or whatever. this is just straight,effective sports medicine. and it will hurt. allot. but it's all better than the baseball bat to knee feeling when your IT band goes into spasm, for sure.

good luck with it and feel free to ask away here or via PM if you have further questions.

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Old 10-29-2013   #3
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 432
upshitscreek gave some good advice.

Single best thing I've seen work for people and work for myself as well: Strengthen gluteus medius muscles.
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Old 10-29-2013   #4
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 34
Thanks for the replies. I particularly like the idea of the nalgene for in the field work. I used to foam roll more when I had lower back issues and will start incorporating that post paddling for the IT bands as well. Any good exercises for cross training either the IT's or complimentary muscles?
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Old 10-29-2013   #5
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
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I don't deal with an IT issue but have other leg and back issues. Stretching before putting on is key for me. Also, the outfitting and basic posture promoted by different boats makes a huge difference. Maybe try a boat with a very different knee position.
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Old 10-30-2013   #6
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 400
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For me, the outfitting makes all the difference. That and a massage prior to the season start and stretching day of. Mini foam rollers do exist, I found the nalgene to hurt too much... try a tennis ball just below the hip on the floor. That's the best stretch i've found.
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Old 10-31-2013   #7
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 535
Originally Posted by Ka-Pow View Post
Any good exercises for cross training either the IT's or complimentary muscles?
for strength, nothing fancy for me. i'm not a gym person anymore. i hike a trail close to home ~3 times a week and add in a 6 mile bike ride ~1 a week. plus get out and do backpacking/day hiking on the weekends a few times a month at the bare minimum. in the winter, cross country skiiing or snowshoeing. it's more about keeping the strength up and muscles in shape and loose vs. sitting in front of a desk/tv or whatever and losing tone and tightening up. the biggest times i have trouble is just when i slack for several months(like in winter) and then do a big hike or whatnot. beat it back and maintain and it's not an issue anymore. this all said, it is still over a period of months. no quick fix. it just takes time and sustained effort.

definitely spend time on youtube educating yourself. tons of good info on there these days for itbs,stretches,treatments,excercises.

good stretches that helps the lower back allot too.

the last stretch in that vid shows the roller technique. i also go up higher on the hip and then the gluts, especially where the top of a pocket would be on a pair of pants for an example of it's location. the first 2 stretches are very good in the field stretches too if it is acting up.

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