Saturday, August 24, 2013

Iliotibial Band Syndrome or ITBS #physicaltherapypost

Hey fellow athletes and runners! I'm here :)

As I've mentioned before in previous posts, my summer has been so busy! With two active boys we are non-stop when we aren't working. When I get my down-time I go to bed. But, I have some time this morning to put up this post finally!!

I had a lot of interest from my fellow SPAs on running injury posts and how to rehab them. So, I'm starting here with ITBS.

I'm stating with the purpose and causes and then showing you how to prevent and treat it. If you just want to know how to prevent and treat scroll past the first four pictures.  :)

The IT Band is a thick fascia that goes from the hip to the knee on the lateral aspect of each of our legs.

The purpose of the ITB is to contribute to lateral stabilization of the knee. It acts like another ligament on the outside of the joint, adding support during any weight-bearing activities.

ITBS is a common injury seen with runners, however cyclists and hikers can have this issue too.

A lot of times it will crop up when the person starts to increase the activity level without making it a gradual process.

However, there are other anatomical differences that can cause this to happen to, such as having a leg length discrepancy, over-pronating while you are running/walking (putting your weight through the instep of your foot for a longer period than you should), or if your knees are in an increased genu varum position (bow-legged) which would put a strain on the ITB.

This shows a leg length discrepancy, where the 
bones in the lower left leg are longer than the right.

This shows how the different angles of our femur, coming
from our hip can affect the angle of our knees.
Genu varum can cause ITBS, but so can't Genu Valgum.
Genu Valgum puts our feet in an over-pronated position.

This shows over-pronation.

That was a very basic over-view of the anatomical anomalies that can cause ITBS.

So you have ITBS? How you treat it is very similar to how you would prevent it. 

  •  Make sure your shoes aren't worn out.
  • Do you have any of the above anomalies? Check with your doctor to see if you need special inserts in your shoes.
  • Change your running surfaces up. Don't always run on the tar!
  • If the road you run on is graded, switch up the sides you are running on. Having that angle can really tweak your knee.
  • Make sure you warm up before you start and stretch at the end.
  • Strengthen!!

Now, if you have dealt with the above and you are currently dealing with ITBS, there are a few specific things you can do to promote the healing process.

  1. Reduce your mileage. I know, not what you want to do. But, if you want to run pain-free for many more years it is worth it to ease up a little.
  2. Cross-training is great. You work your muscles in a different way and you are still staying fit. Try swimming, pool running or rowing.
  3. Ice or heat the area. If you have been dealing with this issue for more than a couple weeks, heat will actually be better for the inflammation process. Use for 15 minutes at a time while resting your legs.
  4. Stretch the ITB and the side of your hip. You can do basic stretches and you can stretch through foam rolling.
A and B are the same stretch and C is getting more into a side/hip 
stretch. In each picture she is stretching the left side. 
Hold stretch A/B for 30 seconds and repeat three times. Do the same
with C. You can do this 2-3 x day.

The lateral part of your leg is resting with almost your full body
weight pressing down through. You use your arms and top leg as
leverage to roll yourself up and down the foam roller. Roll up and 
down 5 or 6 times and then take a break. Do 3 sets of this twice a day.
Finally, doing some massage to the ITB will help as well. Do self-massage or have someone do it for you. 

If you feel like you would benefit more from a professional helping you through this, then you should see your PCP so they can refer you on to a physical therapist. 

If all else fails and orthopedic doctor can do a release to the ITB, which is a surgical procedure. But....
let's hope it doesn't come to that!

Hope this helps!

Have you ever had ITBS or do you have it now?

What other athletic injuries would you like me to post about?



  1. I had a nasty case of ITBS in April that sat me out of running for two weeks. The foam roller has become my best friend since and is a God send when it comes to healing and preventing ITBS.

    1. It can feel awful, but it is a great tool :)

  2. I agree with Emily... Foam roller became my best friend, as well when I had ITBS when training for the 2010 Chi Marathon. Luckily after having incorporating more stretching/foam rolling (and with a little luck) I have prevented it from returning! Foam roller definitely has to be one of the best inventions for runners.

  3. I fear runner injuries & pains. So far, I experienced nothing major (thank God), just sore muscles and the likes. But my husband does! Thanks for sharing this info Britt. :)

  4. This is a great post Britt! Thanks for sharing all this great info! I definitely learned something. I didn't know much about the IT band but heard lots about injuries...

    1. Thanks Maria :) I'm glad you found it informative!

  5. I have found foam roller very helpful to relax my muscles and make them flexible. IT Band Syndrome, if in runners’ case, it’s better to skip running for a few weeks until you get rid of the pain and get prevented from the worst situations. At Runner’s World IT Band Syndrome, there are some more tips on prevention of IT Band Syndrome.

    1. They do have some helpful info there too; thanks for sharing!