Iliotibial Band Syndrome is sometimes generally referred to as "Runner's Knee". It is a common overuse injury that is experienced in many repetitive movement sports such as running.
The iliotibial band extends from the gluteus muscles (buttocks) to the outside edge of the patella and knee bones. The band serves as a stabilizing mechanism to the outside of the hip bone and to prevent internal knee rotation during each running step that you take.
KNEE MUSCLES (view from back) KNEE BONES (view from front)
Research, up until recently, has described iliotibial band syndrome as friction that develops by the band rubbing over the lateral femoral condyle of the knee bone. This rubbing causes pain with each step that you take.
However, more recently, exercise scientists have been redefining this description as a thickening of the fascia lata of the thigh muscles which becomes compressed during your step gait while running. When the fascia lata (tissue) becomes thicker, it becomes tighter and causes pain.
Those who commonly experience iliotibial band syndrome usually display one of these biomechanical discrepancies:
The most common treatments are: REST, NSAID usage (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and physical therapy. Your best course of action is to be diagnosed by your doctor, who will probably use the Ober or Renee test to diagnose, and be recommended a treatment program through him.
Many of those who develop ITBS have genu varum (bow legs) and pronated feet. Therefore one way to prevent the syndrome is by making sure your running shoes work against your pronation. Get your shoes fitted by a professional or someone who can analyze your running footsteps.
Keeping your hip muscles strong, particularly your gluteus and external hip muscles, is one of the best preventive measures. (See the video below for hip strengthening moves.)
Stretch after running, no matter how lazy you may be feeling. It is so easy to cause tightness in the ITB by just skipping a stretch after you run but this is probably the most effective exercise to perform in keeping iliotibial band syndrome at bay! (See the video below on how to increase your flexibility and stretch the ITB.)
Employ a mid-foot strike and lean slightly forward. This will cause you to place less force on the knee when you impact the ground. It also allows you to step almost right on your center of mass. Heel striking is the worst footstrike to use when experiencing ITBS as it places almost all the stress on the knee joint.
It is as always, best to ease into running. Start with 1-2 miles/day, 3 days out of the week. Keep one day of rest between each running day. Stop running if you feel pain. If you are pain free, increase your mileage by 5-10% the next week. As always, follow the advice of your health care provider.
Rehabilitating ITBS can be a very long process and it is best to go extremely slow and to barely increase your mileage with each week but it is worth the effort to get your body back to set point.
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