Iliotibial Band (IT Band) Syndrome
IT Band Syndrome is the one of the most common overuse injuries for runners, triathletes, and cyclists. The IT Band is designed to assist the hip muscles in the outward movement of the thigh and to stabilize the side of the knee. Since the IT Band is not a very strong structure, weakness in surrounding muscles and overuse can lead to injury and ITBS. When this happens, the ligament that extends from the outside of the pelvic bone to the outside of the shinbone (IT band) becomes so tight that it rubs against the outside of the thigh bone.
Typically, sufferers of IT Band Syndrome experience pain along the outside of the knee joint, sometimes accompanied by a clicking sensation. The clicking is a result of the ITB tightening and snapping across the joint during activity. ITBS typically starts with tightness and can become extremely painful. The pain is typically described as occurring on the outside part of the knee or lower thigh and is made worse by getting out of a car, going up or down stairs or running up or down hills.
Runners who do not participate in sports involving side-to-side movement or who do not cross train, can have weakness in their hip and core muscles. Distance runners are especially susceptible to ITBS. IT Band Syndrome can be a debilitating injury to a runner. The IT band injury can become so painful that a runner is unable to train at all until it heals. See our IT Band exercises for tips on how to ease your pain.
IT Band Causes
The most common cause of IT Band pain is a stress injury, the result of certain muscles surrounding the knee becoming neglected as others strengthen. IT Band injuries most commonly befall runners, and this type of injury is most likely to develop slowly over time. You might be at higher risk for developing IT Band Syndrome if you fall prey to these factors:
- Physical factors, often outside of an athlete's control, such as the inherent stiffness of the IT Band tissue, an inequality of leg length, or extremely flat feet or high arches
- A sudden increase in the intensity of your running routine
- Failure to warm up or cool down before and after you run
If you're worried about developing an IT Band injury, be sure that any increases in your regular running routine are taken gradually over time.
IT Band Symptoms
Unlike many other stress injuries, ITBS is often a condition that occurs slowly, with pain increasing over time, and doesn't necessarily need an inciting moment of stress to trigger. Typically, those who have injured the IT Band tissue of their legs will experience the following:
- A burning pain along the outside of the knee while running
- Tenderness in the tissue of the knee with pressure
- Over time, the pain will occur more frequently during a run, and you may begin to experience it when walking or climbing stairs as well
- Pain severe enough that patients are unable to continue running
If you have injured your IT Band, you should consult a doctor immediately to find the best treatment solution for you. Because the IT Band is not a muscle, it will need different recovery strategies.
IT Band Treatment
As with all injuries, prevention is your best defense especially with injuries that are as painful and inconvenient as ITBS. Prevention options include:
- Running on level surfaces - Running on flat surfaces can be an important factor in avoiding injury. When runners are training on roads, they need to ensure that they are running on both sides of the road as many roads are higher in the center and slope to the sides. If the foot that is on the outside part of the road is lower than the other, it can cause the pelvis to tilt to one side and stress the IT band.
- A balanced approach to training - Runners should make sure that they include strength training and flexibility exercises in their workout routine as well as allow time in their training schedule for rest and recovery.
- Preventative stretching - Athletes should stretch all areas around the IT band each day and be certain to stretch prior to, and after, any exercise or excessive physical activity.
Once an athlete begins to detect signs of ITBS, short term relief and treatment options may include the following:
- Seeking proper medical diagnosis.
- Rest from training activities which may include ice and stretching.
- Cho-Pat- IT Band Strap compresses the area to begin healing and prevent further damage. This strap delivers Dynamic Pain Diffusion™ to absorb and diffuse stress. Non-cinching material provides comfortable support even when flexing.
Long Term Healing
- RangeRoller - can be an effective way to increase the blood flow to the injured area. This brings an effective Deep tissue massage along the full length of the IT Band. Enables massaging of both outer and inner layers of muscle and connective tissue with Exclusive Trigger Treads™ . It also increases circulation, relieves knots, warms muscles, eliminates scar tissue, and improves overall performance. The Original length delivers medium stiffness in a convenient, portable size.
- CoreStretch - can be used for strengthening exercises for weak hip and core muscles. This product uses the body’s natural traction to achieve safe, and effective stretches. Delivers a variety of key stretches to activate the entire interconnected chain of core muscles (hamstrings, lower back, hips, piriformis, and glutes) in order to alleviate muscle compensation and further injury. Delivers optimal stretching for 3 levels of fitness that can be used in seated, standing, or floor positions.