Iliotibial Band Syndrome or ITBS is generally referred to as “Runner’s Knee.” It is a common overuse injury that happens in many repetitive movement sports like running.
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Anatomy of Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band extends from the buttocks (gluteus muscles) towards the outside edge of the knee bones and patella.
The iliotibial band prevents the internal rotation of the knee during each running step that you take. It also serves as the stabilizing mechanism to the outside of the hip bone.
Causes of Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Researches have recently defined ITBS as friction that develops by the band rubbing over the lateral femoral condyle of the knee bone.
Therefore, this rubbing causes discomfort (pain) with each step you take.
Recently, the exercise scientists have again defined this description as the thickness of the tensor fascia latae of the thigh muscles, which becomes compressed during your step gait while running.
When the tensor fascia lata (tissue) becomes thick, it becomes tight and causes pain.
The majority of people who suffer iliotibial bands syndrome generally show one of these biomechanical discrepancies:
- Bowlegs (Genu Varum)
- Greater ankle internal rotation in males
- Pronated feet
- Greater hip external rotation in females
Treatment for Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The most commonly used methods (treatments) are:
- Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug (NSAID)
- Physical therapy
Your best option is to get diagnosed by your physician or doctor. He will probably use the Renee or Ober test to diagnose (identify) the problem and suggest the best treatment program through him.
Other Treatments Options:
Strengthen your hip abductor muscles
Keeping your hip musculature stronger will help you to maintain balance and stability throughout your leg. It will also help you in keeping less stress on your ITB and your knee joint.
Lean forward a bit (don’t do it too much!) while you run
The result of leaning forward is that you will land closer to your center of mass on impact with the ground. This will reduce the forces felt at the knee.
Increase your step rate (the number of steps you take per minute while running) by 5-10 percent.
It is something that might require some training, but it has proved to be effective.
Below are some general guidelines for calculating how you can increase your step rate
- Tell your friend to record a video of you running for one minute to find out your step rates.
- Now count how many steps you had taken during that one minute and multiply it by 0.05-0.10.
- The result will let you know how many steps you should be taking each minute to improve your running technique.
How To Avoid Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Many of those who develop iliotibial band syndrome have bow legs (Genu Varum) and pronated feet.
Therefore one method by which you can limit or prevent the Iliotibial band syndrome is by making sure that your running shoes work against your pronation.
- Use a mid-foot strike, and lean slightly forward.
- Stretch after running.
- Get your shoes fitted by a professional.
- Keep your hip muscles strong.
When Can You Run Again?
As always, it is best to ease into running.
Begin with 1-2 miles per day, three days out of the week.
Between each running day, keep one day of rest.
Stop running if you experience discomfort. If you’re pain-free, you can increase your running distance by 5-10% for the following week.
As always follow the advice of your doctor.
Rehabilitating Iliotibial band syndrome can be a lengthy process, and it’s advised to go extremely slow and barely increase your running distance (mileage) every week.