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Prevent and Heal IT Band Syndrome

This blog was written by Jocelyn Ricasa, MD, sports medicine physician at Bon Secours Medical Associates. Ricasa-Jocelyn-MD-portrait-238x300

You have been happily hitting your stride and then it seems like with every step, your stride has started to hit you back on the outside of your knee! What causes that pain?  It might just be a four-letter diagnosis that all runners hate to hear: ITBS, or Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

The iliotibial band is a strip of non-flexible tissue that starts from a muscle on the outside of the hip, runs down the outside of the thigh, past the end of the femur (thigh bone), past the outside of the knee, and finally inserts on your tibia (shin bone)  just below the knee.  Yes, it is a really long strip of tissue!   As the knee bends and straightens, the IT band slides back and forth over the bony prominence on the outside of the end of the femur.

The main symptom of ITBS is pain on the outside of the knee, which stems from the friction of the IT band snapping back and forth. Runners also hate the word “friction!”

How do you fix it?  Start with the usual four-letter treatment:  RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).  Scale back on the training, and seek professional help sooner rather than later, so it doesn’t hold you back.

How do you prevent it?  Train smart. Run on level surfaces (watch those banked roads!), alternate which way you run around the high school track, augment your running regimen with cross-training, and get professional help when choosing your footwear.  Happy IT bands = happy runners!