Iliotibial band syndrome commonly termed as ITBS is a common injury in runners that causes extreme pain on outside of the knees. One of the main culprits for this injury is overstressing and overdoing running that may be beyond the limits of your body and thus resulting in additional load on your legs. Although the symptoms are much clear but treatment for complete recovery would take some time. Problems related with this injury are quite frustrating and thus a proper treatment plan is essential so that one can reduce inflammation, pain and strengthen the problem area while preventing the pain to return again.
What is IT Band?
The IT Band thick tough band that begins from pelvic bone and reaches the outer third of your thigh. This thick tissue fascia reaches the inserts of knee cap sides and the shin bone (tibia). ITB is flexible with soft steel strength. It also attaches to GM (Gluteus Maximus) at the level of hip and the TFL (Tensor Fascia Lata). As these muscles of hip contract, they result in an increased tension on band. An injury may occur if any one of these muscles may change the pattern of movement causing an imbalance.
Causes of ITBS:
There can be a number of causes that gives rise to this common injury and understanding of these causes would enable you to prepare better for prevention. Some of these causes may be biomechanical problems with a runner’s body whereas some of the causes can be imposed by imbalances or other factors discussed.
- Tightness of IT band.
- Training errors such as instant increase in pace or distance.
- Improper warm-up (keyword: Tips for Warming up before a Run) and cool-down exercises.
- Too much of hill running.
- Over striding.
- Improper running shoes.
- Weak hip abductors.
- Poor muscles control.
- Over posterior muscles.
- Bowed legs.
- Reduced ankle motion range.
- Flat feet.
- High arches.
Prevention from ITBS:
Here are some preventative measures that one can simply adopt in order to prevent from ITBS and enjoy a healthy running.
- Wear Proper Running Shoes: It is imperative for runners to wear supportive and right pair of running shoes. Running shoes would need replacement and most of them usually tend to lose their shock absorbing feature after 200 to 300 miles. So make sure you replace your running shoes and always wear a supportive pair to prevent from risk of ITBS.
- Measured Training: ITBS and other injuries can commonly occur in runners when they try to increase the pace, distance or duration of running too quickly. It is best to increase around 5-10% each week and go at a slower pace so that you can gradually build endurance for an increased workout.
- Running Surface: Often running surfaces are the culprit. Too much of terrain and concrete running can cause ITBS. So it is better to avoid running on such surfaces.
- Change Directions: This injury can also occur if you continue to run in one direction only for a longer duration. While you are on the running track, try to change directions at regular intervals.
- Muscles Strengthening Exercises: Apart from running, you should also focus on strengthening exercises especially that takes in to account hip abductors. These exercises could reduce the risk of ITBS.
- Warm-up before runs: As you begin to run directly, your body’s cool temperature instantly rises and could result in an injury over time. Therefore, it is recommended to always warm-up before running so that your body gradually gains the pace and reaches a moderate temperature.
Symptoms of ITBS:
Some of the common symptoms for ITBS include:
- Sharp or burning pain around knee while running. This pain may disappear as you stop running and may recur as you begin your next run.
- At a later stage, this pain may be observed while walking or climbing stairs.
- As you bend your knee, you may feel tenderness in outside area.
Treatment of ITBS:
Proper diagnoses of this problem is important and thus you should visit your physician in order to find out if the pain is really in connection with ITBS or is it some other injury with similar symptoms. Proper diagnoses would lead to proper treatment measures that would solve this problem.
- First and foremost consult your physician for proper medicines for relief in pain or swelling if any.
- Apply ice to the affected area.
- Wearing compression tights is also found useful by many runners who develop ITBS. These tights offer comfortable running.
- In severe conditions, do not run until all the pain is gone and it would take at least a week or two.
- Do proper stretching exercises focused on stretching the IT band at a level of the hip muscle. Stretching is not only helpful with ITBS but with many other injuries too. Even if you do not have any injury, stretching should be done after each run. Begin with standing in a way that your left leg is over your right leg. Now stretch your left arm over your head trying to reach right side. Repeat it for other side now. With this exercise you will feel stretch all the way to your hip.
- Foam roll multiple times throughout the day in order to ease up your tighten muscles. Although it would be painful but doing so would help you in treating this injury.
- Strength train your body muscles so that you can prevent from muscle imbalances. You can do strength training exercises at home or can even join a gym.
- You can also seek help of a professional massage therapist who is trained for treating ITBS with massage therapy.
ITBS usually would be a disturbing pain only. However if you don’t opt for proper treatment, the situation can become severe and may result in chronic pains that may hinder your everyday activities too. If case may become worst, even a surgery is suggested as the only option left to get relief. Although this is only rare but if a little bit of knowledge, prevention and treatment can solve the problem then why to get yourself in trouble.