One of the most common injuries for runners is Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Known as ITBS, it is experienced by both new and experienced runners. A preventable and treatable injury, read on to learn more about ITBS.
What: The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs from the hip to the shin on the outside of each thigh. It works to both stabilize and move the knee joint. ITBS occurs when this band is inflamed or tight and leads to pain.
Causes: ITBS is most often caused by a sudden increase in work load for the knee. Other potential sources are a change in terrain or a lack of recovery time. It can also result from running in worn out shoes, on banked surfaces, turning only in one direction or faulty running mechanics.
Symptoms: Pain and swelling on the outside of the knee are the result of an inflamed IT Band. The pain can also radiate up the outside of your thigh along the length of the IT band. If you bend your knee to 45 degrees and have pain on the outside, it’s ITBS.
Treatments: Rest, foam rolling and low impact cross training like swimming are good ways to avoid further irritation of the IT band. Ice, heat and anti-infalmmatories are also treatment options. While all of these will treat the symptoms of ITBS, it’s important to address the cause of your injury during treatment and recovery phases.
Recovery: ITBS often results from poor running mechanics that allow the knee to rotate inward on landing. Strengthening glutes, working towards a soft foot strike and increasing mobility through both hip extension and flexion are the best ways to treat and prevent this injury. Work with a qualified coach or physical therapist to determine what caused your injury. Rest and heal it then strengthen and mobilize to prevent it from happening again.