Product Review: CTM Band

Disclaimer: I received the CTM Band to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!


I am not exaggerating when I say that the CTM band has been a life saver and welcome addition to both my and my husband’s training/recovery tool box. 🙂


No other tool that I have at home has brought me as much relief from tightness and soreness (especially with my quads and IT band) as the CTM band. And trust me, as a former collegiate runner with a storied injury history I have tried many, many tools. The stick, the trigger point foam roller, a regular foam roller, a tennis ball, you name it…I’ve likely tried it. The CTM band is the closest at home tool to providing me the relief I would get when I’d go to a Physical Therapist and get the Graston Technique done. The upside of the CTM band: less painful, less expensive, and similar results (sweet, sweet relief, looser tissue, improved range of motion). Check out their website to learn how to use the CTM Band for different injuries, sore spots, and areas of your body.


And I’m not the only one in my household that loves the CTM band! During this marathon training cycle my husband was experiencing the worst quad soreness he has ever had and after two days of suggesting he tried my CTM band he finally caved (he’s running the Illinois Marathon). It was life changing for him! The next day his soreness was a lot better and felt like he had better range of motion during his run. Now he regularly uses the CTM band before and after running. I often have to fight him to use it first if we run at the same time! 😛 I’m even packing the CTM band for our race next weekend (marathon for him and half marathon for me). I think he just needs his own 😉

I also think you should try out the CTM band! Especially because I have a sweet deal for you: the code “CTMBIBRAVE” gets you 20% off your order! So try it out and let me know what you think! 🙂


Finally, don’t just take my word, see what other BibRave Pros have to say about the CTM Band:








Mary Jo




Workout Wednesday #1: IT band strength & balance routine for runners

Good afternoon friends and fellow runners! 🙂

If you have been following me here for a while (or even if you haven’t) it is no secret that I’ve struggled with IT band issues on and off for years. IT band injuries are tricky because they are often a result of weak hips, glutes, and hamstrings and they are not something you can detect on a scan. Occasionally, weakness in other areas can cause pain in the IT band (i.e. your back or calves). Furthermore, tightness in those muscles, running on uneven surfaces, poor running form, or running the same route (i.e. the same direction on a track) may also contribute to IT band pain.  If you are interested, you can read more about my IT band injuries here and here.

After successfully kicking IT band injuries on both sides (at different times) and also having recurrences years later, I’ve figured out what I need to do to stay healthy and strong. I’ve undergone physical therapy, spent many hours with the weight room/foam roller/resistance band, and missed countless college track seasons and post college races to figure out that I need to do WEEKLY strength, balance, and flexibility work to stay strong. When I get busy and/or lazy on those workouts, that’s when I have IT band flare ups.

Here is an example of the type of strength and balance routine I do to get stronger during AND after IT band troubles. Be sure to modify the weights, reps, etc. to match your goals and fitness level- I shared mine just as a starting point. This is about a 40 minute workout for me, but may take you longer/shorter depending on reps, weights used, and rest between sets. I typically do strength training 2 times per week and more often (up to 4 times per week) when my IT band is bugging me. For flexibility, I do yoga (usually on YouTube, but occasionally at a local yoga studio) 1-2 times per week. If there is interest, I can continue to share my  strength workouts! Down the road I may even share some of my running workouts…

Disclaimer: I AM NOT a medical professional and you should see one if you have any pain in your IT band or anywhere else. Furthermore, you should also check with a medical professional before beginning any exercise program.

40-minute-IT-band-strength-balance-workout-3663502467-1513800011493.jpgWhat do you do for IT band rehabilitation? Did you find this workout helpful? Comment👇🏻 Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or workout requests!  I have also added this workout to the new Black Bean Queen Pinterest



Happy blogiversary, my return to running, and 11 things I learned after a 5 month injury

WOW! Hello friends! It’s been a long time…I NEVER thought 2015 would be my longest hiatus from running (or blogging). But all that matters is that I am back now!! 🙂

Happy Blogiversary!

Since I’ve been gone, this blog turned one! On June 28, 2014, this blog started as a place for running, healthy tips, vegetarian recipes, and random musings from my life to all come together in one place. I’d like to think that over a year later, that is still the case. So, I am going to throw it back to my very first blog post to celebrate Black Bean Queen turning one.

Moving forward, I hope to focus even more on running  on the blog.  This post in particular is a special running update. I have not posted much about running here, because in the year I’ve had this blog I have spent over half of that time injured. 😦

My five month IT band/lower back injury

Let’s travel back in time to the winter of 2014/2015…I noticed some pain near my right knee in late December, so I took a few days off. I thought it was weird because I had been running pain free since August. After some rest and stretching, it seemed to be okay so I resumed running, but I was cautious. I kept my mileage extremely low, cross trained, and noticed some twinges now and again, but nothing that alarmed me.

In early February, I agreed to do a 5k in late February with my boyfriend. During the last half mile of the 5k race I noticed a sharp pain in my right knee and I pushed past it to finish the race (mistake #1). I could barely walk or run a cool down with my boyfriend without pain. I still stubbornly tried to go for a run the day after the race. I didn’t even make a mile before the sharp pain in my knee returned. I knew right then and there that I reinjured my IT band. I also noticed lower back pain after the run, which was something I’ve never had before.



I knew  I was in really bad shape, yet I was positive I could fix my injuries myself (mistake #2). For the next month I stopped running, but I tried everything I could think of. I foam rolled, did yoga, and all the old PT exercises that I could remember. Nothing was working. I knew I was a far away from running healthy and pain free as I had ever been in my life. Finally, at the end of March I swallowed my pride and sought help from a physical therapist (finally good choice #1).

My physical therapy experience

My physical therapist is wonderful. When she first assessed me in March, she was surprised I was even able to walk somewhat pain free. My glutes and hips were very weak and my running form was somewhat poor as a result of the injuries. All the years of college running and only barely healing my previous injuries caught up to me.  This IT-band/ lower back injury was the result of all my misalignments, weaknesses, and past injuries all in one. I remember thinking to myself, how would I ever get better???? While it was a relapse of my prior injuries, it was also my fault I got injured. :/ I got lazy about my strength work. Core, glute, and hip strength are key to staying strong and injury free, especially in a society where we spend over half of our day sitting.

So, since the end of March I have been going to PT 1-2 times per week to aggressively  strengthen my glutes, hips, and core in order to realign everything, run strong, and correct my running form. Next week is likely my last week, though, as long as my measurements and strength tests go well.

In between sessions I do select exercises at home. In June, I started a four week, three times per week return to running program. In week one I started at 0.5 min of running, 4 min of walking x 6 and week four had me at three thirty minute runs. I completed the return to running program and now I am slowly building the distance of my runs and the amount of runs per week. I am at four runs per week now.

Now for fun, I did a list of  the 10 things I learned from this injury and hopefully it provides some inspiration and laughs for anyone out there who has had a running injury! 🙂

11 things I learned after nearly 4 months of physical therapy


2. Trust yourself, but trust the experts more.

3. Hard work. Just like you need to run various speeds and terrain to be a great runner, you need to do various strength and rehabilitation exercises to overcome an injury.

4. Do not skip your PT exercises at home. They will know! 😛

5. One minute of running is better than the zero minutes of running you will get if you try to return to running to soon. This will always be a tough one for me…

6. It takes a lot of glute strength for dogs to pee…I learned this after my PT added the fire hydrant move to my physical therapy routine. I look like a dog taking a leak and my butt is on fire all in the same move.

7. Bird dog is not nearly as easy as it looks if you are doing it correctly. I am still working on this one. I will be for life… How do the elites make it look so easy??

8. When in doubt do another set of clamshells and bridges. Glute strength is key for all runners. I will be strengthening my glutes for life…. but hey if I get to keep running injury free, that’s a fair price!

10. Change your goals and focus on the positive. So running the Chicago Marathon is off the table for me this year…but now my goal is to be able to do long runs by October. I am still working toward a goal that will make me happy, but is realistic.

11-1 million. PATIENCE AND TRUST IN THE PROCESS. After two months of PT I was unsure if I would ever be done and allowed to run. Now, four months later I am running, slowing building up my mileage, and I’m pain free!

Later today, I will be going for a beautiful run and I could not be happier or more grateful!  It’s tough for me to run slow now, but I am trusting the process. I just want to continue to run and I know that the speed, workouts, and races will come later when I am stronger. This injury has reminded me why I love running in the first place. Outside of competition, running is a time to breathe in fresh air, forget my worries, do something healthy for my body, and enjoy nature. Have a happy Sunday everyone. 🙂

Have any of you struggled with the same injury on and off for a while? Did you finally heal? What did you learn from your injury? I’d love to hear your stories too!