Iliotibal Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome is commonly referred to as runners knee, IT band syndrome or shortened to ITBS or ITBFS. We look at symptoms, causes and treatment to get you pain free in the shortest time.

Symptoms of Iliotibial Band Syndrome / Runners Knee

  • This knee pain occurs on the outside of the knee (at or around the lateral epicondyle of the femur).
  • Tightness in the iliotibial band.
  • Pain normally aggravated by running, particularly downhill.
  • Pain during flexion or extension of the knee, made worse by pressing in at the side of the knee over the sore part.
  • Weakness in hip abduction.
  • Tender trigger points in the gluteal area may also be present.

What Causes Iliotibial Band Syndrome / Runners Knee

Certain factors may make you more susceptible to developing runners knee or iliotibial band syndrome:

  • A naturally tight or wide IT band
  • Weak hip muscles such as gluteus medius
  • Trigger points within the IT band and gluteal muscles
  • Overpronation
  • Overuse
  • Excessive hill running
  • Running on a cambered surface
  • Leg length difference
  • Most of these factors can be addressed through changes to your training programme, the use of insoles or heel pads and a thorough rehabilitation programme.
  • Iliotibial band friction syndrome may require long-term rehabilitation and frequent Iliotibial band stretches should be maintained even after symptoms cease.
  • Rest.
  • Avoid painful stimuli, for example downhill running.
  • Apply cold therapy or ice to reduce any inflammation.
  • Iliotibial band stretches after training and throughout the day are important.
  • Self massage techniques can also be very helpful in correcting excessive ITB tightness.
  • See a sports injury specialist.
  • Perform soft tissue or deep friction massage.
  • Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as NSAID’s e.g. Ibuprofen.
  • Use Myofascial release techniques which have been shown to be highly effective.
  • Perform dry-needling techniques.
  • Outline a rehabilitation strategy which may include stretches and exercises to strengthen the hip abductors.
  • Use electrotherapeutic treatment techniques such as TENS or ultrasound to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • In acute or prolonged cases a corticosteroid injection into the site of irritation may provide pain relief.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome/ Runners Knee Treatment

What can the athlete do?

  • Rest.
  • Avoid painful stimuli, for example downhill running.
  • Apply cold therapy or ice to reduce any inflammation.
  • Iliotibial band stretches after training and throughout the day are important.
  • Self massage techniques can also be very helpful in correcting excessive ITB tightness.
  • See a sports injury specialist.

What can a Sports Injury Professional do?

  • Perform soft tissue or deep friction massage.
  • Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as NSAID’s e.g. Ibuprofen.
  • Use Myofascial release techniques which have been shown to be highly effective.
  • Perform dry-needling techniques.
  • Outline a rehabilitation strategy which may include stretches and exercises to strengthen the hip abductors.
  • Use electrotherapeutic treatment techniques such asTENS or ultrasound to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • In acute or prolonged cases a corticosteroid injection into the site of irritation may provide pain relief.