Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome

While training we can often feel fatigued and sometimes feel some soreness in the muscles. However, if you start to feel a ‘sharp’ pain then this is your body telling you there is something wrong. IT band syndrome often occurs in runners, this is where the pain is felt on the outside of the knee and is often not treated correctly. We are often told to ice, rest and stretch (all of which are good and should be done) however the best approach to treating IT band syndrome is a proactive approach.

WHAT IS THE IT BAND?

More often than not people think that the ITB is a muscle, it is NOT. It is a thick, fibrous band of connective tissue that runs down the outside of the Quads. It originates in the Glutes and TFL (Tendor Fasciae Latae) and attaches below the knee.

If you have weak Glutes, then IT band syndrome is more common. When you’re fatigued, your hips and glutes can no longer compensate, and the knee can rotate inward or outward. A flare-up of ITBS can come on abruptly and may feel like a stabbing sensation on the outside of your knee.

TREATING ITBS 

If you’re suffering from ITBS, the first thing you’ll need to do is stop running, however an active recovery is the best treatment for ITBS. Strengthening exercises are the most effective, below you can read 6 exercises that will help to strengthen the weak areas associated with ITBS. Weakness/tightness in the glutes, hip flexors and TFL will contribute to a lack of stability in the knee. It is very important during recovery to incorporate Sports Massage as you need to release the tension in the areas above which in turn will help ease the tension in the IT band.

The exercises described below will help prevent and treat ITBS. These exercises are great to do even if you aren’t experiencing ITBS as we are now finding that sedentary jobs are causing/contributing to weak glutes and tight hip flexors increasing the likelihood of ITBS.

EXERCISES

  1. Side Leg Raise

Lie on your right side keep both of your legs straight. Slowly raise your left leg up to about 45 degrees and then lower it back down. Repeat the movement on both sides.

Reps: 20–30 on each side.

To increase the difficulty then you can use a exercise band (around the ankles) to increase the resistance

  1. Hip Thrust

Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent and your feet on the floor. Pushing your heels into the ground, use your glutes to raise your pelvis up until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Lower slowly, then repeat.

Reps: 20–30 on each side.

To increase the difficulty, you can raise one leg into the air and repeat the same movement.

  1. Clam Shell

Lie on your right side with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your feet together, use your glutes to slowly open and close your legs like a clam. Do not let your pelvis to rock while you complete the movement.

Reps: 20–30 on each side

To increase the difficulty, you can place an exercise band above your knees to increase the resistance

  1. Side Shuffle

Stand with your legs hip-width apart with an exercise band around your ankles. Take 10 steps to the right, then 10 back to the left, the band should remain tight throughout the movement (this is 1 set)

Reps: 3–5 sets

To increase the difficulty, go into a squat position and make sure you lead with your heel when you step.

  1. Pistol Squat

Stand on your right leg, raise your left knee up and out in front of you. Slowly lower yourself into a squat position, balancing on your right leg and allowing your left leg to straighten out in front of you. You should be able to lower yourself down until your quad is parallel to the floor, then slowly come back up.

Reps: 5–15 per leg

  1. Sise Hip bridge

Lie on your side with your feet elevated 1–2 feet off the ground. Keep your spine stable and slowly lift your torso off the ground using your hip muscles, then lower slowly.

Reps: 10–30 on each side

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