IT Band Syndrome is the one of the most common overuse injuries for runners, triathletes, and cyclists. The IT Band is designed to assist the hip muscles in the outward movement of the thigh and to stabilize the side of the knee. Since the IT Band is not a very strong structure, weakness in surrounding muscles and overuse can lead to injury and ITBS. When this happens, the ligament that extends from the outside of the pelvic bone to the outside of the shinbone (IT band) becomes so tight that it rubs against the outside of the thigh bone.
Typically, sufferers of IT Band Syndrome experience pain along the outside of the knee joint, sometimes accompanied by a clicking sensation. The clicking is a result of the ITB tightening and snapping across the joint during activity. ITBS typically starts with tightness and can become extremely painful. The pain is typically described as occurring on the outside part of the knee or lower thigh and is made worse by getting out of a car, going up or down stairs or running up or down hills.
Runners who do not participate in sports involving side-to-side movement or who do not cross train, can have weakness in their hip and core muscles. Distance runners are especially susceptible to ITBS. IT Band Syndrome can be a debilitating injury to a runner. The IT band injury can become so painful that a runner is unable to train at all until it heals. See our IT Band exercises for tips on how to ease your pain.
The most common cause of IT Band pain is a stress injury, the result of certain muscles surrounding the knee becoming neglected as others strengthen. IT Band injuries most commonly befall runners, and this type of injury is most likely to develop slowly over time. You might be at higher risk for developing IT Band Syndrome if you fall prey to these factors:
If you're worried about developing an IT Band injury, be sure that any increases in your regular running routine are taken gradually over time.
Unlike many other stress injuries, ITBS is often a condition that occurs slowly, with pain increasing over time, and doesn't necessarily need an inciting moment of stress to trigger. Typically, those who have injured the IT Band tissue of their legs will experience the following:
If you have injured your IT Band, you should consult a doctor immediately to find the best treatment solution for you. Because the IT Band is not a muscle, it will need different recovery strategies.
As with all injuries, prevention is your best defense especially with injuries that are as painful and inconvenient as ITBS. Prevention options include:
Once an athlete begins to detect signs of ITBS, short term relief and treatment options may include the following: