Each year handfuls of runners, cyclists, and hikers are plagued with iliotibial band syndrome (IT band syndrome). This condition causes pain on the side of the knee and is most commonly caused by activities that involve repetitive bending to the knee.
Keep reading to learn what exactly IT band syndrome is, what symptoms to watch out for, how to treat it, and much more.
What is iliotibial band syndrome?
Iliotibial band syndrome is an injury often caused by activities that involve bending the knee repeatedly like running, cycling, or walking long distances. These activities can cause the IT band – a thick bunch of fibers running from the outside of your hips down to the outside of your thighs and knees – to become too tight. When this happens, it can lead to pain and swelling around the knee.
IT Band Syndrome Symptoms
The main symptom of IT band syndrome is pain that occurs on the outside of the knee, above the joint. Other symptoms of IT band syndrome include:
- Aching in the outside of your knee
- Pain that occurs up and down your leg
- Redness on the outside of your knee; it may also feel warm to the touch
- Feeling a click or pop on the outside of your knee
Iliotibial Band Syndrome Causes
- Improper Training: Training improperly can cause IT band syndrome. This includes warming up properly before your workout, pushing yourself too hard during your workout, and not cooling down properly.
- Running on Poor Surfaces: People underestimate how the surfaces we work out on can influence our overall health and performance. Things like running downhill and on uneven terrain can cause IT band syndrome.
- Certain Physical Conditions: Some physical conditions can make you more prone to IT band syndrome. These include having bowed legs or a leg that’s longer than the other. Arthritis in your knee and having weak ab, glutes, and hip muscles can also influence whether or not you will get IT band syndrome.
IT Band Syndrome Diagnosis
If you believe you have IT band syndrome, your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and health history and give you a physical exam.
Pain in the outer knee can be caused by numerous other things besides IT band syndrome so your doctor may order an X-Ray to rule out other injuries.
IT Band Syndrome Treatment
If you have IT band syndrome, good news. The condition almost always goes away on its own within a few weeks as long as you rest and follow your doctor’s orders. Most individuals see a full recovery in six weeks.
While your doctor will recommend treatment specific to your case, here are basic steps you can take to ease your pain and reduce swelling.
- Avoid activities that cause the pain to reoccur or get worse
- Take OTC painkillers like aspirin and Tylenol
- Ice the affected area daily
Preventing IT Band Syndrome
Whether you’ve never had IT band syndrome or recovered from IT band syndrome and don’t; want to experience it again, there are ways to prevent it:
- Give yourself enough time to warm up before a workout
- Give yourself enough time to recover in between workouts
- Focus on running with a shorter stride
- Replace your shoes regularly; never workout while wearing old, worn out shoes
- Run on flat surfaces
- Use a foam roller in the IT band area; foam rolling can loosen up your IT band
IT Band Stretches
Stretching is great for easing the pain and tightness associated with IT band syndrome and can be done just about anywhere. These stretches will help you get started:
1. Seated Hip and ITB Stretch
- Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you
- Cross your injured leg over your other leg, bending your knee
- Place your foot flat on the floor and rotate your body to look over the shoulder on your injured side
- Turn until you feel a stretch and hold for 30 seconds
- Repeat five more times
2. Knee to Opposite Shoulder Stretch
- Lie on your back and bend the knee of your injured leg
- Grasp behind the bent leg knee with both hands, pulling the leg toward the opposite shoulder
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds then relax your leg
- Repeat five more times
3. Side-Lying IT Band Stretch
- Lie on your side with your injured knee on top
- Bend your top knee and hold your ankle; at this point, you should feel a tightness in your quads
- Pull back slightly, placing your bottom foot on the side of your top knee
- Gently pull the foot on your knee down towards the floor until you feel a slight stretch
- Hold this stretch for 20 seconds and release
- Repeat five times
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re suffering from muscle stiffness, let us help you get back to doing the things you love. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.