Illiotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome

Illiotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome

Introduction 

Staying with our recent theme, this weeks article is going to address Illiotibial Band (ITB) Syndome, one the most common sources of knee pain in runners. It accounts for around 15% of all running-related injuries and has been suggested that up to half of the running population will suffer this injury at some point during their participation. 

What is ITB syndrome? 

ITB syndrome is localised pain over the lateral aspect of the knee. Pain is commonly felt running or descending stairs, positions in which the knee bends as the hip extends. The pain is caused by a compression of the thick fibrous band that descends the lateral thigh. When acute, the pain is often enough to cause the cessation of activity. ITB syndrome is often diagnosed by a physiotherapist and rarely requires further medical investigation. 

Why do people get ITB syndrome? 

Almost all injuries related to running are overuse injuries. Simply put, training volume has increased too quickly. ITB syndrome is no exception to this rule. A narrow gait, weak hips and running downhill can also be considered additional risk factors. 

Why is ITB syndrome so difficult to treat? 

As soon as a runner feels lateral knee pain, they tend to stop running until the pain subsides. During this time, you loose strength. Generally, once the pain has subsided the runner increasing training volume very quickly. This then leads to further compression and the cycle begins again.

It’s essential that runners seek the assistance of a physiotherapist. Their sessions should include a gait analysis, strength training and a return to running program. Deep tissue massage can also be of benefit, but you should not rely solely this intervention.