Iliotibial band (IT) syndrome, also referred to as IT band injury or IT band pain, is an injury that affects the outside of the knee and is caused when irritation or inflammation of the IT band occurs.
If you have ever suffered from IT band syndrome, you know IT band pain is a pain you don’t want to feel again. The good news is that you can prevent IT band injuries with strengthening and stretching exercises. Pay close attention and follow the information/suggestions here and you may be able to steer clear from the pain of IT band syndrome!
What is the IT Band?
The IT band is the long, strong, thick band of tissue that runs along the outside of the leg. It starts at the hip area and runs all the way down to just below the knee. The purpose of the band is to provide stability to the knee during movement.
IT Band Syndrome Causes
An IT band injury is an overuse injury, primarily caused by inflammation of the IT band. Tightness in the IT band can cause friction where the IT band crosses the knee joint. Causes of IT band syndrome can include:
- Running up and down hill repeatedly
- Running on a banked or sloped surface (like an indoor track or edge of a road)
- Running up and down stairs
- Weak hip muscles
- Uneven leg length
- Excessive foot strike force
IT Band Injury Symptoms
- Stinging sensation above the knee
- Swelling or thickening of the tissue where IT band moves over femur
- Pain may intensify over time and may not occur immediately during activity
- Pain occurs when foot strikes the ground
- Pain may occur where the IT band attaches to the tibia
Preventing IT Band Syndrome
- Warm up and stretch before competing or practicing
- Recover properly between events/competitions/practices
- Improve core strength with Pilates type exercises
- Avoid running on banked surfaces
- Avoid running the same direction on the track all the time
- If you have flat fee, where arch supports or orthotics
Check out the exercises in this downloadable document: IT Band Stretching & Strengthening Exercises (PDF). And in this blog post, you’ll find more information on preventing running injuries.
IT Band Syndrome Treatment
- Rest – most runners don’t want to listen to this advice but rest really will help alleviate the pain
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Ice the painful area
- Improve flexibility by stretching
- Physical therapy
We hope you can steer clear of IT band syndrome and keep your legs moving!
Emory Healthcare is the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia and includes Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, Wesley Woods Center, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Emory Adventist Hospital, The Emory Clinic, Emory Specialty Associates, and the Emory Clinically Integrated Network.
Come visit us at the AJC Peachtree Road Race expo in booth 527 to get your blood pressure checked and learn more about how Emory Healthcare can help you and your family stay healthy!
About Dr. Brandon Mines
Brandon Mines, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics. Dr. Mines started practicing at Emory in 2005 after completing his Sports Medicine Fellowship at University of California – Los Angeles. Dr. Mines is board certified in both family practice and sports medicine. He has focused his clinical interest on sports injuries and conditions of the shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, knee, foot and ankle. He is head team physician for the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Atlanta Dream and Decatur High School. He is also one of the team physicians for the Atlanta Falcons. His areas of interest are diagnosis and non-operative management of acute sports injuries, basketball injuries, tennis injuries, golf injuries and joint injections.