What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?
ITBS is a common injury to the thigh, generally associated with running, cycling, hiking or weight-lifting and is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The iliotibial tract is a superficial thickening of tissue (fascia) on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilising the knee during running, moving from behind the femur to the front while walking. The continual rubbing of the band over the lateral femoral epicondyle, combined with the repeated flexion and extension of the knee during running may cause the area to become inflamed.
What are the symptoms of ITBS?
- Pain at the outside part of the knee (and sometimes below the knee cap) that is worse when bending or extending the knee, such as during running or cycling
- Pain on the outside part of the hip over the greater trochanter.
- Tenderness may the outside of the knee when pressure is applied, especially when the knee is slightly bent
- Typically, an athlete is unable to “run through” ITB pain and whilst early on symptoms will subside shortly after activity, they return with the next run, usually after a reproducible amount of time and intensify with time.
- There is not usually any swelling associated with this problem, but the band itself may be thickened.
What are the causes of ITBS?
- Tightness in the iliotibial band
- Anatomical abnormalities in leg/feet anatomy (i.e pronation, uneven leg length, increased Q angle)
- Muscle imbalance
- Training habits (uneven surfaces, inadequate warm up/down, overtraining)
How to prevent ITBS?
Iliotibial band syndrome can be prevented by avoiding overtraining, allowing for adequate recovery and rest, following a regular stretching and strengthening program and selecting proper running shoes or visiting your podiatrist to help with correction of any anatomical or biomechanical abnormalities
Treatment of ITBS:
- Various treatment methods exist for ITBS, some of which include
- Stretching and strengthening programs
- Training modification
- Correction of anatomical or biomechanical abnormalities