IT Band Syndrome
IT Band Syndrome or Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome is a condition that results in pain on the outer side of the knee. The iliotibial band is a thick band of tissue along the outer side of the thigh. It attaches to the Tensor Fascia muscle on the front, outside area of the hip and the gluteus maximus muscle of the butt. As the IT band courses down the side of the leg it covers the boney area on the outside of your knee. Symptoms arise at the spot where the band rubs against the outer side of the knee joint.
Certain body mechanics and muscle imbalances may cause increased friction and result in symptoms. Initially, you will experience the pain only after running a certain distance and the pain will subside after the run. As symptoms progress, walking or going up and down stairs becomes painful and running is quite painful.
- See Principles of Recovery.
- Recent research conducted on runners at Stanford University has shown promising results. These athletes performed a series of gluteal strengthening exercise. These muscles may help reduce strain on the and allow the area to function more efficiently. These exercises are part of the program presented in The Injured Runner – A Balanced Solution.
- Frequent stretching of the ITB and gluteal muscles can improve your symptoms. Spend at least five to ten minutes twice per day working the area. There are several contortions described as ITB stretches. Try them all until you find a position that stretches the area near the pain. See ITB and Gluteal stretches.
- Foam roller stretching / massaging can be very helpful. Spend 2-3 minutes on each leg. You will notice a few very painful spots. I recommend rolling the less painful spots first to help relax the area then work into the painful spots. The video below will give you an idea of how to use a foam roller.
- Arch supports or orthotics (custom foot supports) may be able to support the foot in a way that reduces strain on the IT band. If you have a high arch you may benefit from an insole that provides more cushioning.
- An anti-inflammatory cream could be used to reduce the pain and inflammation. Talk to your doctor about transdermal anti-inflammatories.
- Deep tissue friction massage is a treatment that some brave (or desperate) runners try. There is actually a study that reported this type of treatment to be ineffective. However, I know runner’s that will tell you it made a difference for them.