What Is IT Band Syndrome and What Does it Mean for Athletes?

What Is IT Band Syndrome and What Does it Mean for Athletes?

The iliotibial (IT) band is a thick, fibrous strip that connects your hips and gluteal muscles to the thighs, tibia, and lower leg. It connects the major muscle groups in your legs and allows them to work together to bend your knees, move your legs outward, and maintain a wide range of motion.

Causes and Symptoms of IT Band Syndrome

IT Band Syndrome (ITBS) is an injury that is often caused by repetitive, strenuous motion. Activities like running, hiking, cycling, and other exercises that involve repeated bending of the knees can cause friction between the bursa (a small sac on top of your knee) and the IT band. This friction causes painful symptoms, such as:

  • Persistent pain, swelling, and tenderness of outer knee
  • Diminished flexibility and range of motion
  • Warmth or redness of knee(s) after running, cycling, or other exercise
  • Sharp pain when knee is bent at approximately 30 degrees, when the IT band glides over the femoral condyle (bottom end of thigh bone)
  • Tightness in hips and outer thighs
  • Notably increased discomfort when running downhill

How to Avoid IT Band Syndrome and Injuries

While ITBS tends to be treatable, it is painful and restrictive enough to warrant preemptive caution on your part. Pay particular attention if you are a runner or cyclist, but be aware that competitors in any sport can develop ITBS. Be nice to your knees by making sure to do the following:

  • Always warm up before a workout. Skipping warm-ups and jumping right into intense athletic activity is a great way to throw your IT band out of whack (and miss out on a great workout).
  • Run on flat, even surfaces. True, a cityscape may provide some great visual distractions from the burn, but sidewalks tend to be slanted and uneven (not to mention rife with opportunities to trip, fall, or sustain further injury).
  • Make sure your form isn’t hurting you. In many cases, athletes unintentionally injure themselves by engaging in strenuous, repetitive activities (like running or cycling) without ensuring proper form. If your preferred form of exercise includes machinery, such as an elliptical machine or bicycle, it never hurts to ask a fitness instructor, physical therapist, or other professional to weigh in on your form.

Aberdeen Physical Therapy for IT Band Injuries

How to Treat IT Band Syndrome

ITBS doesn’t typically require surgery or any other invasive treatments, which is a relief to most athletes. In fact, there are many effective, fairly simply treatment methods for getting your IT band back to proper function. However, identifying the root cause of your IT band injury is key to a successful recovery—and that’s why we’re here. At ProFysio Physical Therapy, we know what it takes to pinpoint the exact cause of your pain. Once you’ve been assessed by our experienced Doctor of Physical Therapy, we work with you to create a plan that will help you alleviate pain, avoid re-injury, and get back to pushing the limits of your athletic ability.

Don’t endure muscle tightness, limited mobility, and the painful symptoms of ITBS any longer! Call us today at (732) 333-6360 to schedule your initial evaluation.

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