IT Band Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatment, and Exercises
What is it?
IT band syndrome, also known as iliotibial band syndrome, is a common overuse injury that affects the iliotibial band, a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin. This injury can also be referred as “runners knee”. The injury is often caused by repetitive motions, such as running or cycling, and results in pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the affected area. The location of knee pain can be localized in certain areas or generalized around the whole knee. The cause of IT Band syndrome is often a combination of weakness in the quadriceps and gluteus medius along with tension along the IT Band and gluteus maximus. The combination of weakness and tension in certain muscles in the hip and knee lead to pain with movements such as walking and running.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Knee pain which can be sharp or dull
Tenderness or soreness along the iliotibial band
Stiffness or a burning sensation in the affected area
Pain that worsens with activity, particularly with running, cycling, or other repetitive motions
Pain that improves with rest
Pain or discomfort when going up or down stairs
Pain or discomfort when sitting for long periods of time
Swelling or inflammation on the outside of the knee
How is it treated?
Physiotherapy will address the cause of IT Band syndrome, which is a muscle imbalance between muscles of the hip and knee. Physiotherapy treatment will include:
Stretching and manual therapy: Stretch, massage, and active release treatments will be targeted toward the gluteus maximus and IT Band to reduce tension in these structures relieving the knee pain.
Acupuncture: Dry needling which is a form of acupuncture is particularly effective at reducing tension in the gluteus maximus. Electro acupuncture applied along the hip, thigh, and knee can reduce pain and improve circulation in the knee to promote healing.
Strengthening exercises: Hip and knee exercises will be prescribed by . your physiotherapist which will focus on strengthening the muscles in your quadriceps and glutes.
Gait analysis: Your physiotherapist will analyze your walking and running pattern to ensure that you are using the correct technique, which can reduce the stress on the IT band.
Orthotics: Your physiotherapist may recommend orthotics to correct biomechanical issues caused by your feet which is contributing to poor alignment in your knee leading to IT band syndrome.
Education: The physiotherapist will give you information about how to prevent IT band syndrome from recurring and how to manage symptoms.
Common Home Exercises
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes slightly outward.
Lower your hips back and down as if you were sitting back into a chair.
Keep your weight in your heels and your back straight.
Lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground or lower.
Push through your heels to return to the starting position.
Repeat for 10-20 repetitions for 3 sets.
Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart.
Take a large step forward with one foot, keeping your feet facing forward.
Lower your body by bending both knees, making sure your front knee is directly above your ankle and not past your toes.
Keep your chest up and your back straight as you lower your body. Your back foot should be on the ball of your foot with your heel lifted.
Push through your front heel to return to the starting position.
Alternate legs, lunging with the other leg. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions per side for 3 sets.
It's important to keep your core engaged and your back straight throughout the exercise. Make sure that your front knee is not past your toes and your back knee is almost touching the floor.
Glut Medius Leg Raise
Start by lying on your side with your legs straight and your feet together. Maintain a straight posture where your shoulder, hip, and feet are in straight alignment.
Bring your top leg back behind midline, turn your knee downwards toward the ground, point your toes up (dorsiflexion).
Lift your top leg toward the ceiling. You should feel a contraction along the side of your buttock.
Repeat this for 10-20 repetitions for 3 sets.