Sitting destroys more than just your back. It also messes up your hips, knees, and hamstrings which all combine to wreck the way you walk. Walking funky wears your joints out. Maybe you are like me…days that I sit too much I get nagging aches and pains in the joints of my lower body. I am particularly prone to having my IT band flare up on my right knee.
First a story that brought about this post.
Every year the American Heart Association holds Heart Walks around the country both to raise awareness of heart disease (and stroke) and to raise money.
I’m the guy responsible for the cardiac services at the hospital where I work. So by default I am the lucky Heart Walk champion which means I coordinate the department teams to help them raise money. This year, I personally raised enough money to make the executive challenge and become a “Heart of Gold” recipient.
Being a “Heart of Gold” recipient gets my smiling mug up on a billboard with the other 10 folks who met the executive challenge this year. This past Friday afternoon as I was checking voicemails I received one from the local AHA director asking me to email her a headshot. The best part was she needed it by Monday.
Now maybe you all have professional headshots, well I didn’t. The whole weekend I was mulling over how I am going to get a headshot. I was even considering taking a selfie (or at least getting my wife to take the picture).
First thing Monday morning, I call our network marketing department. I tell them the situation and that I need a headshot ASAP. Luckily for me the network is big enough to have a professional photographer, who also happened to be at one of our sister hospitals, and best yet, could fit me in for a quick photo session. The photographer was all set up to take some pictures for several new doctors, so I was able to squeeze in for my headshot.
I hopped in my car and made the 30 minute drive over to the hospital. I sat in some awkward poses, but got my headshot done.
The relationship between this story and sitting is bad for you may not be clear. I will connect the dots. I already spend too much of my day sitting. Then add in a 30 minute drive each way combined with sitting funky on a stool for another 30 minutes for a surefire way to aggravate my IT band…which it did.
Here is what I do to address an IT band flare up.
Fix your IT Band
The Iliotibial Tract, (IT Band, ITB) basically runs down the outside of your thigh to just below your knee, or the crest of your hip bone to lateral condyle of your tibia. When you are having issues with your IT band, it is generally an overuse or abnormal gait problem. It feels like someone is jabbing a knife in the outside of your knee.
Fix the IT band with the RAIL System
The RAIL system was created by Dr. Perry Nickleston, Stop Chasing Pain on Facebook, and stands for Release, Activate, Integrate, Locomote.
Watch the following video for the R.A.I.L. steps in action demonstrated by Andrew Read.
- With a lacrosse ball in the glute
- Use pigeon pose or similar stretch in both passive and active stretching
- Use the face down position from the video that goes through hip extension, external rotation, and abduction
- This is done in a standing position to confirm the process was successful. A great exercise to test function for the IT band is single-leg deadlift
- Test with walking and running to make sure you are able to do both pain-free.
I used the above sequence from the vidoe in the morning when I woke up and at night before I went to bed the past couple of days. I am happy to report I am almost back to being 100% pain free.
Question: What do you do to combat the “too much sitting” epidemic?
RAIL’ing against the IT band,
P.S. Do me a favor and please share this with someone you know who is suffering from IT band issues. TIA!