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What Is ITB Friction Syndrome?

What Is ITB Friction Syndrome?
What Is ITB Friction Syndrome?

What Is The ITB?

The Ilio-Tibial Band or ITB is a thick band of fascia (connective tissue) that runs on the outside of the thigh from the hip down to the knee. The ITB is not a muscle but at the hip muscles feed into the ITB and when you are bending your knee and moving your hip this band must also slide and glide across underlying muscles of the thigh. If this gliding and sliding doesn’t function correctly then it can put you at risk of developing ITB friction syndrome.

What Is ITB Friction Syndrome?

Sometimes in athletes the ITB can become inflamed or irritated causing discomfort. The ITB is often an issue in athletes who engage in long distance running or cycling where the repetitive bending and stretching of the knee can cause irritation. It is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners and can potentially sideline a runner for weeks, or longer. ITB syndrome, ITBS or ITB friction syndrome is something commonly seen by physiotherapists world wide and Sydney physios are no exception because generally where you have people running or cycling you will find cases of ITB friction syndrome.

What Are The Symptoms Of ITB Friction Syndrome?

As with most injuries there are varying degrees of severity of ITB friction syndrome, as stated above the pain associated with ITBS can be severe enough to force the athlete to cease training.
The common signs and symptoms are:

  • A sharp or burning pain just above the outer part of the knee which worsens with continuance of running (or other repetitive activities like cycling).
  • Swelling over the outside of the knee.
  • Pain during early knee bending at around a 45 degree angle.

What Are The Causes Of ITB Friction Syndrome?

Factors involved in the onset of ITB friction syndrome can be many, including: .

  • Training factors such as running downhill or on banked surfaces, running too many track workouts in the same direction, or simply running too many miles.
  • Biomechanical factors involving the foot, including foot abnormalities, worsened or caused by wearing the wrong type of shoes or training in worn out shoes.
  • Muscle weakness, specifically weakness of your hip abductors “gluteus medius” a muscle that helps support the hip and pelvis.
  • Tightening of the ITB and associated musculature.

Basically ITBS can result from any activity that causes the leg to turn inward repeatedly and this can occur from individual biomechanics, strength and flexibility as well as training habits.
When the ITB comes near the knee rubbing can occur between the band and the bone causing inflammation and pain. Anything that increases the likelihood of this rubbing could play a role in causing ITB friction syndrome.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance regarding What Is ITB Friction Syndrome? should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner, sports medicine specialist or physiotherapist.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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