How to Avoid the Setback of Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome

Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome is a very common overuse injury among cyclists and runners, and those performing numerous squat exercises. The IT band is band of tissue that runs along the outside of leg from the iliac crest of the pelvis and connecting to the top of the tibia or shin bone. Its purpose is to stabilize the knee through its full range of movement. It is often mistaken for a knee injury as pain and swelling result, especially on the outside of the knee. Tightness in the band causes an increase in friction between the band, and the femoral condyle, a bony protuberance near the outside of the knee.

Symptoms of IT Band Syndrome

IT Band Syndrome is characterized by needle-prick type pain on the outside of knee to begin with and then progression to disabling pain with even walking and especially going up and down stairs.

Causes of IT Band Tightness and Inflammation

  • Overuse
  • Worn out shoes
  • Downhill running
  • Running on banked surfaces
  • Multiple track workout running in the same direction
  • Activities that cause the leg to repeatedly turn inward

 

How to Avoid IT Band Syndrome

  • Warm up well by walking before running or cycling
  • At first sign of trouble, decrease mileage or take a few days off
  • Wear shoes that are in good condition
  • Run in the middle of the road when possible to avoid banked surfaces. (Be safe. Choose clear roads)
  • Change direction often when training on a track
  • Avoid squats for a time

 

How to Treat IT Band Syndrome

The best treatment is usually R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, stretching to increase flexibility. Another helpful technique is massage or friction rubbing to help decrease inflammation and break down scar tissue. Most people are able to recover using these methods, however, in extreme cases, surgery is used as a last resort. Check with your doctor to see what treatment options would work best for you.

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