Ilio-tibial band syndrome (or IT Band Syndrome, for short) is quickly becoming one of the most common overuse injuries, especially among runners.
It’s also one of the most frustrating injuries. While most physical therapists, chiropractors and clinicians can easily identify and treat IT band syndrome, the average runner doesn’t have a clue.
The severe pain rings throughout the outside of the knee, causing you to focus your DIY treatments to the side and upper knee. And while the pain subsides, it doesn’t last. IT band syndrome is more complicated than it seems.
So what does work? Let’s discuss the structure of the injury to understand exactly what IT band syndrome is and how your Pittsburgh chiropractor can help alleviate your pain.
What is IT Band Syndrome
IT band syndrome — also known as iliotibial band friction syndrome — can drive runners, cyclists and hikers mad with stubborn, severe pain along the side of the knee. And it’s all related to your Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL).
The TFL is a small muscle found on the outside of your pelvis, designed to stabilize the hip and pelvis. However, the TFL is also responsible for flexing the hip (raising your leg out in front), abducting the hip (moving your leg out to the side) and medially rotating the hip (turning your leg so your foot points inwards). At the top of the TFL lies the IT band, a long, thick tendon running from the pelvis to the knee.
The problems start when the IT band gets overworked. Think of it as a rubberband. When it’s fresh out of it’s package, it’s springy and ready for action. But after a few months of use, the band starts to loose it’s elasticity and slowly starts to wear down.
Your IT band works the same way. With every movement of your hip or knee, your IT band wears down a little bit more. Even sitting down can tighten up your IT band. Combine running and sitting, and you have a great recipe for creating IT Band Syndrome.
Treating the IT Band and TFL
So how can you treat your pain and end your frustration? It starts with a foam roller. The foam roller was practically invented for treating the IT band and the TFL.
Let’s say it is your left hip and IT Band that is painful and bothering you. Maybe it is causing pain in your knee. Maybe not.
In order to treat it, you lay on your left side, with your right shoulder facing the ceiling. Place the foam roller between your hip and the floor, starting with it at the top of your hip & pelvis.
Slowly roll it down your leg by shifting your body and sliding your body along the foam roller, staying perpendicular to the floor.
When you find a painful spot, lean into it for a few seconds. No more then 10 seconds per spot. You’ll want to come back to it a few times. I recommend treating each painful spot 3 times for 10 seconds each.
If you want to focus on the TFL, you’ll want to use a lacrosse ball or tennis ball. It will be more specific than the foam roller. Start out the same way as treating the IT Band, with your body perpendicular to the floor. Have the ball between your hip and the floor.
Get the ball to the top, front most portion of the hip, while being on your side. You’ll be out to the side of the ASIS. From here it is east to roll onto your back and treat the other gluteal muscles. You’ll go from Gluteus Minimus to Gluteus Medius to Gluteus Maximus.
IT band pain can sideline even the most active runners for weeks at a time, or even longer. Don’t let your pain prevent you from doing what you love most. If you are struggling with knee pain, give us a call today and let us help you start enjoying more pain-free days.