In this fourth installment of our running injuries series, we’ll cover ITBS. ITBS is the acronym for Iliotibial Band Syndrome, is a common running injury experience by those who are both new to and experienced with the sport of running. A preventable and treatable injury, read on to learn more about what ITBS is, how to avoid it and how to recover when you do get injured.
What: The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs from the hip to the shin on the outside of each thigh helping to both stabilize and move the knee joint. ITBS is an overuse injury that occurs when this band is inflamed or tight and leads to pain with movement of the knee.
Causes: ITBS is most often caused by overuse. This could come from a sudden increase in work load for the knee, a change in terrain or a lack of recovery time. It can also result from running too much in worn out shoes, on banked surfaces, turning only in one direction or faulty running mechanics that cause your knees to rotate inward.
Symptoms: Pain and swelling on the outside of the knee are the result of an inflamed IT Band. ITBS can feel like a knee injury but it isn’t. If you bend your knee to 45 degrees and have pain on the outside, it’s ITBS.
Treatments: Rest, foam rolling and low impact cross training like swimming are good ways to ease and avoid further irritation of the IT band. Ice and anti-inflamatories are also options to treat ITBS pain. While all of these will treat the symptoms or ITBS, it’s most important to address the cause of your injury during the treatment and recovery phases.
Recovery: ITBS often results from poor running mechanics that allow the knee to rotate inward on landing. Strengthening glutes, working towards a neutral foot strike in a low drop shoe and increasing mobility through both hip extension and flexion are the best ways to treat and prevent this injury. Work with a qualified coach or physical therapist to determine what caused your injury, rest to heal it then strengthen and mobilize to prevent it from happening again.