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IT Band Syndrome

The IT (or ‘iliotibial’) band is a long piece of connective tissue that runs along the outside (or lateral) part of the leg all the way from the ilium of the hip bone to the tibia (or shin bone). It is an important stabilizer of the hip and knee, providing tension and support, especially during repetitive motions like running and jumping. Since the IT band stretches over the lateral part of the knee joint, it can become irritated and inflamed as it moves back and forth while the knee repeatedly flexes and extends.

 

IT band pain is usually felt on the lateral part of the knee, especially while bending the knee, and can sometimes be accompanied with a snapping sound while moving, slight swelling, and pain that radiates up along the outside of the leg. It is a common overuse injury for runners, cyclists, and anyone doing repetitive movements like running, jumping, or squatting that causes increased friction on the IT band. Muscle imbalances, particularly weak hip and gluteal muscles, poor flexibility, and prolonged periods of sitting with bent knees increase the risk of IT band pain. Poor biomechanics while running, jumping, and cycling can also increase the risk of IT band pain since it is responsible for ensuring the knee is tracking properly during movement; if the knee is out of alignment, it can cause excessive friction on the IT band.

 

IT band pain can be avoided or lessened by reducing the amount of the weight bearing activity that you feel may have caused the issue in the first place, stretching your glutes, icing after activity. However, getting treatment early is beneficial to determine the root cause and ensure that the joints and muscles of the lower body are not compensating for the pain leading to further issues in the hips and knees.

IT Band Syndrome Treatment

What can physiotherapy do?

What can physiotherapy do for me?

  • Physiotherapists will treat this condition using techniques to reduce the tension on this tissue such as IMS, stretching, and deep friction massage.

  • In addition to reducing tension on the tissue modalities like Ultrasound and Shockwave are useful in resolving the inflammation and promote recovery of the tissue at the friction point.

  • Correction of muscle shortening and weakness.

  • Correction of lower extremity tracking and alignment problems.

  • Evaluation of foot mechanics and ensuring footwear is appropriate.

  • Modifying training techniques including working on a recovery regimen that addresses potential chronic strain in the area.

I have been doing IT band stretches and rolling. Why hasn’t this fixed it?

While rolling and directly trying to stretch the IT band feels good it in reality isn’t doing much to help the acute problem. Why? The IT band is tough tough tissue.  It is the main support for the outside of the knee when we stand on one leg and allows us to use our hip muscles to balance while letting our center of gravity fall inside of our foot so we don’t waddle when we run or walk.  In fact, we don’t want the IT band to stretch out. This would reduce the mechanical advantage here and create big problems for the hip and knee joints.  In actual fact it takes 2000lb of force to deform the IT band only 1%. There is no way we are generating that kind of force during rolling… By all means roll it out after activity, it will help with circulation and tissue mobility but it will not cure your IT band pain.

 

Book an assessment with one of our team to get started on the path to getting rid of stubborn IT band pain.

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