About IT Band Syndrome

About IT Band Syndrome


Illiotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is one of the most common knee problems encountered by avid runners, track and field performers, and other high endurance sports.

For the average clinician such as a physiotherapist or chiropractor, identifying ITBS is quite simple due to its same signs and symptoms.  The IT Band runs from your hip to your knee. As the tissue is parallel to the femur, it located on the outer side of each leg. Due to the bands alignment, its main function is to stabilize the thigh bone with the knee during impact activities and support the patella during different movement patterns.  

Constant activity where the patella shifts in different directions will weaken the IT Band.

Athletes such as runners, boxers, cyclists, long jumpers statistically suffer from this problem the most for this very reason.

Syndrome, Not An Injury

This condition is not an injury, as the IT Band causes inflammatory around the knee joint and can constantly recur if not looked after on a consistent basis. Tightness causes its discomfort. The objective is to keep it loose at all times. Clearing ITBS on one occasion will not stop it from coming back.  By treating the right imbalanced muscles, you can cause it to become loose, relieving the irritation in the affected areas. This must be exercised on a daily basis for at least 15 minutes if IT Band Syndrome affects you.

Signs And Symptoms

These can be easily recognized, especially for runners. Firstly, the knee will feel unstable, running uphill and downhill. There may even by a clicking or popping sound as the IT Band may not be holding the knee in line with the thigh bone. Apart from inflammation a numbing feeling can start to irritate under or to the lateral side of the knee cap. If the IT Band begins to become weaker, the pain can advance up the IT Band itself and towards the hip where the tissue connects to the glutes and TFL. Athletes such as boxers will experience agony trying to pivot the feet on executing certain combinations, as the patella shifts in a different direction.

How To Treat IT Band Syndrome

If you are in an extreme state of inflammation around the knee cap, you will notice one knee looks a lot bigger than the other.  At this stage, you don’t want to be bearing weight on the knee.  This will come at a later stage for strengthening your glute maximus and glute medius, as ruling out weak hip abductor muscles is a must.

Initially you can start by reducing the inflammation itself by following the RICE protocol by resting, icing, compressing and elevating the knee. After the swelling as reduced to a certain degree after a day or two, you can start by exercising the IT Band by lying on your side with specific exercises. Once strong, you can strengthen the glutes with weight bearing exercises.

5 Exercises to Help Treat IT Band Syndrome

Foam Rolling

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This will be extremely painful for those suffering from ITBS.  Rolling from the hip to the knee, the key is to apply pressure to the IT Band and increase the load over time. This will help loosen the tissue over time, and in response, will become less painful as improvements are made. 

To learn more about the importance of foam rolling click on the link. https://www.yourhouseclinic.com/yhc-blog/importance-of-foam-rolling

Theraband/ Resistance Band Clamshells

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Lying on your side, you can tie a resistance band or a theraband around the top of your knees. Bringing your knees to 90 degrees. Slowly open your legs and close the loop by bring your knees together.

Inward Gluteal Step Up

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Holding a pair of dumbbells, perform a simple step up where your come in from a 45-degree angle to target your glute max and medius. Once the step up is performed and the thigh bone, knee and toe are all in line, hold for a second before releasing to get best results of targeting these muscles.

Theraband Squats

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Once able to execute the other exercises above with ease, you can now start to perform that squat that you may have been nervous about sue to discomfort of flexing past 45 degrees. To ensure it is safe, do this exercise very slowly with the support of a resistance band. The band will help you get more distance on your squat and help strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes in trying to keep ITBS completely at bay. Once cleared, keep practicing these exercises on a daily basis.

Side Squats with Resistance Bands

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Like your original squats, this adjustment will target your glutes and TFL a little more.

Ben Walker is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.