Coordinated Health

Don’t Let IT Band Syndrome Slow You Down

By: Cathleen Car, PTA   March 6, 2018

If you’re a runner, then chances are you’ve probably heard of Illiotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band Syndrome). It’s one of the most common overuse injuries among runners and can keep you sidelined for several weeks or more. Coordinated Health Physical Therapist Assistant Cathleen Car has the information you need to know about IT Band Syndrome and how you can avoid it.  

  1. What is the Illiotibial Band? The Illiotibial band is fibrous tissue that reinforces the fascia lata that runs along the outer (lateral) thigh from the pelvis to the tibia. It’s an important stabilizer of the outside part of the knee as the joint moves (flexes an extends).
  2. What is IT Band Syndrome? IT Band Syndrome is an overuse injury of the connective tissue that causes pain, especially on the outside of the knee
  3. Who is most likely to suffer from IT Band Syndrome? People who are most likely to suffer from IT Band Syndrome are those that perform repetitive knee flexion motions including runners and bicyclists. Also, those with increased knee flexion including rowing and weight lifting. It can be more common in women due to the angle of their hips. 
  4. What are the symptoms? Symptoms include pain on the outside (lateral) knee, especially at heel strike during walking and when climbing stairs. Some people may feel popping or snapping around the knee and swelling may be noted on outside of the knee. In some cases pain may radiate all the way up the IT band and into the thigh and hip
  5. What is the treatment? Initially the treatment consists of rest and decreased activity level. Ice may be helpful as well as anti-inflammatory medications. Other treatments may include stretching, massage and foam rolling to increase flexibility. Physical Therapy may be needed to help evaluate the underlying cause and look at muscle strength, balance and flexibility. Shoe orthotics may also be helpful. 
  6. What is the recovery time? The recovery time varies depending on the severity and the underlying cause. It can take weeks to months to return to full activity without pain. 
  7. How can you avoid this injury? You can avoid this injury by training properly and not running on a banked surface or going the same direction on a track. Change your shoes often and get fitted to make sure you have the correct foot support. A proper bike fit and pedal set up for cyclists. Do not increase distance and speed too quickly during training. Keep your muscles stretched and flexible. 
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