Four helpful tips for Iliotibial band syndrome
Iliotibial band syndrome, also known as ITB syndrome, is very common in both the athletic population, and the general population. The iliotibial band is a thick band of fascia running from the outer portion of the pelvis down to the lateral, or outer portion of the tibia, crossing both the hip and knee joints. The role of the ITB is to stabilize the knee while it flexes and extends. Due to the function of the iliotibial band, it tends to get injured due to overuse. Irritation of the connective tissue typically occurs due to the ITB running over bony prominences while the knee is flexing and extending. This condition is very common in runners, bicyclists and weight lifters.
Someone who is suffering from ITB syndrome will experience pain on the lateral/outside portion of their knee, or right above their knee. Initially the symptoms are mild, but will gradually progress if not addressed. Some patients will hear or feel snapping or popping in or near their knee. The cause of ITB syndrome is typically due to training errors such as increasing mileage too quickly, quickly increasing incline training, improper form while riding your bike such as toe in posture, or repetitive exercising. This condition can also be cause by muscular imbalances, tightness, and improper muscle firing patterns or improper biomechanics and foot mechanics.
So what can I do to alleviate the symptoms?
Due to this condition being an overuse injury it is important to follow “RICE” initially, which is rest, ice, compress and elevate. This will help reduce the inflammation and give the tissues time to heal. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful, along with natural anti-inflammatory supplements such as turmeric.
Foam rolling and stretching regularly is crucial for treatment and prevention. You want to target your gluteus muscles, the IT band, hamstrings and quads.
Pay attention to your form! It is so important to exercise with good form that allows your muscles to fire properly, and eliminate excessive stresses and unnecessary forces on the body.
Seek treatment! Chiropractic physicians treat this condition very often and are able to get their patients back to doing what they love quickly, as do physical therapists. Co- management between the practitioners has given patients great results, faster than trying to manage the condition alone at home. These providers will be able to evaluate your gait, muscle firing patterns, muscle imbalances, and flexibility. They also utilize myofascial release, physical therapy modalities such as ultrasound, cold laser, and electrical stim to help alleviate the pain. They will also evaluate you for proper alignment and motion within the low back, pelvis, hip, and ankle joints. Corrective rehabilitation exercises are given to help correct the underlying cause of the condition, along with aiding you in maintaining once pain has subsided and preventing future re- occurrences.