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IT Band Syndrome: Runners, Pain, Physical Therapy, and Relief

Written By Pro Physio on April 3, 2018

IT Band Syndrome: Runners, Pain, Physical Therapy, and Relief

Iliotibial band syndrome is a common knee injury caused by inflammation of the distal portion of the iliotibial band (ITB), which results in lateral knee pain. ... ITB syndrome has been documented to have as high as a 22.2% incidence of all lower extremity injuries in runners [3].Oct 2, 2013

J Sports Med. 2013; 2013: 367169.

Many long distance runners experience knee pain at some point in their training. Athletes with iliotibial band syndrome (ITB) may start by complaining about diffuse lateral (outside) knee pain that begins a few miles into their run and is achy is nature.IT band Iliotibial pain runners knee bozeman As the condition progresses, the symptoms become more painful and are described as sharp and localized to the femoral epicondyle. Additionally, there is typically swelling and tenderness 2 cm above the joint line. The runner may also feel tenderness on the outside of the quadriceps, hamstring and gluteus medius muscle. If iliotibial band syndrome is not addressed the knee pain may become constant and more notable with prolonged sitting when the knees are bent.


What may at first may seem odd and interesting is that physical therapy treatment for knee pain associated with IT band syndrome is more often focused on muscle imbalances in the hip, and less on the knee itself! Weakness in the knee extensors, knee flexors and hip abductors have been proven to predispose runners to iliotibial band syndrome; however, when the hip abductors are solely strengthened, the runners symptoms decrease.


The other component to IT band physical therapy is checking the flexibility of the hip flexors and IT band, as well as a small and important muscle known as the TFL. Tight hip flexors can inhibit the gluteal muscles from working correctly. The gluteal muscles are key in stabilizing the pelvis with every step that we take. Also, having enough hip extension flexibility and strength propels the next step for running or walking.


Iliotibial band stretches and gluteus medius strengthening are important components to any IT band physical therapy program. When there is a muscle imbalance, the IT band will become irritated as the knee is flexed and extended while running. Running downhill and running with a longer stride will also aggravate iliotibial band syndrome. If you are suffering from lateral knee pain, do not hesitate to call for a physical therapy evaluation. Your physical therapist can evaluate your flexibility and strength and develop a program tailored to your specific needs, enabling you to get back to running pain-free!

Posted In: Runner's Physical Therapy Knee Physical Therapy Hip Physical Therapy

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