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Bowling News USA - April 4, 2014 Fitness For Bowling Blog with Heather D’Errico-CSCS, CPT, Fitness Specialist


Iliotibial Band Syndrome: A Cause Of Knee And Back Pain In Bowlers


Clearly I have a passion for bowling, sports, and fitness but there is an underlying reason as to how I really became interested in bowling specific training at the gym. My sophomore year of college I was home for break and practicing at my local center. I had always been big on practice, to the point where my coaches had to tell me to just take a day off once in a while (which was like pulling teeth). While setting up for a shot that day, I got a sudden shooting pain in my lower back that practically immobilized me. I set my ball down and sat for a while but that pain did not subside and my mom took me into an urgent care facility. I was thinking I most likely threw my back out….awesome right?! It turned out it wasn’t my back at all but my iliotibial band (IT band).


The IT band is tissue that runs from the hip all the way down to the outside of the knee. Often times, runners get what is called ITB Syndrome where the IT band has inflammation from constant repetition and overuse.  Considering the anatomical location of the IT band is on the outside of the leg, which is stressed during the final step of a bowler’s approach, it makes perfect sense that this IT band is also the cause of many of the aches and pains bowlers complain of. Because the tissue runs from the hip to the knee, the pain caused from IT band inflammation can be felt on any part of the leg and the lower back. Now how many bowlers in your league do you know of that complain their knee, hip, or back hurts? I’m willing to bet more than half the time the IT band is the underlying problem and stretches as well as strengthening exercises for the surrounding muscles is the solution.

To treat ITB syndrome I spent a few months in physical therapy where they taught me stretches and strengthening exercises that they recommend I continue to do long after the pain goes away. This included learning to foam roll, doing hip mobility stretches, strengthening the hips, performing more lateral movements in my workouts, improving running form, and making sure I have the proper shoes to workout in.  At the time I was also big on “cardio” at the gym- like many females, the treadmill was my favorite piece of equipment. After experiencing ITB syndrome I recognized the importance of strengthening muscles rather than wearing them down with “cardio”. Thus, I am a big advocate for resistance training for everyone- including bowlers. Too often, bowlers that try to begin a fitness regimen start with some cardio on a treadmill or elliptical whether it is because they think that is how they will work off the beer and snack bar food, or that is all they know how to do as a beginner. If you ask me where to start I’d say the exact opposite and start with resistance training. Learn how to push, pull, press, and carry weights and you will be on a much better track to limiting bowling injuries and reaching general fitness goals like losing weight. 

Clearly, I could go on for days about the importance of resistance training and you will hear it from me in multiple blogs, but what I wanted to cover in this piece was making bowlers aware of the IT band.  Minimizing the knee, hip, and back pains you may be feeling while you bowl might start with working on that IT band and the follow up in the next month will be videos with demonstrations on stretches and exercises for the IT band. 

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April, 2014