IT Band Syndrome for Runners

Most of the time pain comes from the source of an injury. However, that is not the case when it comes to Iliotibial Band Syndrome or ITBS. It is important to know the symptoms and treatment methods so you don’t have to be sidelined from running.

ITBS is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners. The IT band is the ligament that runs down the side of leg starting at the hip and ends just past the knee. The ligament can become tight or inflamed which may first appear as swelling and pain on the outside of the knee. Unlike many overuse injuries, ITBS can affect seasoned runners almost as often as beginners.

Worn out shoes, running downhill or on a slanted surface, running the same direction on a track or simply running too many miles can all be causes of ITBS. Here are actions that can be done to help prevent IT band issues:

  • Make sure your running shoes are supportive, especially on the outside of the sole.
  • Avoid running on concert surface.
  • When running on the track, make sure you switch directions.
  • Foam rolling the IT band before running can stretch out and loosen the band.

If you are having pain on the outside of your knee, rest immediately. Usually taking time off from running does the trick for most runners. If you don’t listen to your body and you push through the pain instead, ITBS can become chronic. Cross training is a good alternative to running and can help speed up the healing process. Choosing to swim, pool run or row can give your IT band a rest without taking a break from your exercise routine. Side stretches, foam rolling and an ice/heat regiment are also great ways to treat the syndrome.

References: UC San Diego Sport Medicine, “Iliotibial Band Syndrome”.

Runner’s World & Running Times, “ITBS”.