ITB Friction Syndrome A Runners Nightmare

ITB Friction Syndrome A Runners Nightmare

Where Is Your ITB?

The Ilio-Tibial Band, ITB for short is a thick band of fascia (connective tissue) running along the outside of the thigh, extending from the hip superficially down the outside of the thigh finishing up at the knee. Although sometimes referred to as the “runners muscle” the ITB is not actually a muscle but in fact a fascia that a couple of hip muscles feed into. When bending the knee and moving at the hip as occurs during the running action the ITB slides and glides across the underlying muscles of the thigh, if this gliding and sliding doesn’t function correctly then it can put the runner at risk of developing the uncomfortable ITB friction syndrome.

What Is ITB Friction Syndrome?

Sometimes the ITB can become inflamed or irritated causing discomfort in athletes, this can often be the case with athletes who engage in long distance running, or cycling where repetitive bending of the knee for extended periods can cause irritation. ITB friction syndrome is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners and once it has sunk its teeth into you it can frustratingly sideline a runner for weeks, or even longer… ITB syndrome, ITBS, or ITB friction syndrome is something Sydney physiotherapists commonly see, because wherever you have people running or cycling regularly you will undoubtedly find episodes of ITB friction syndrome.

What Are The Symptoms Of Ilio-Tibial Band Friction Syndrome?

ITB friction syndrome as with most injuries has varying degrees of severity ranging from mild discomfort that comes on towards the end of a long run, through to a severe enough pain forcing the athlete to cease training completely.
Common signs and symptoms of ITB syndrome include:

  • A sharp, or burning type pain just above the outer part of the knee. A pain which worsens with continuance of running (or other repetitive knee bending activities such as cycling).
  • Mild swelling and tenderness to palpation over the outside of the knee.
  • Pain during early knee bending at around a 45 degree angle.

Possible Causative Factors With ITBS

Some factors involved in the contribution to the onset of ITB friction syndrome can include: .

  • Training factors: Running downhill, running on banked surfaces, running too many track workouts in the same direction, or simply running too many miles and altering training load without enough time for your body to adapt.
  • Biomechanical factors: Variations of “normal” foot biomechanics such as hypermobility or limited ankle range of movement can potentially contribute to the onset of ITB syndrome. Such biomechanics may be amplified through wearing inappropriate or worn out shoes.
  • Muscle weakness: Weakness with the hip abductors namely “gluteus medius-minimus” that help support the hip and pelvis with loading on a single leg are crucial with running and weakness here can be a potential contributor.
  • Shortening/tightening of the ITB and its associated musculature.

When the ITB feeds in near the knee rubbing can occur between the “band” and the bone causing inflammation and pain to the athlete. Anything that increases the likelihood of this rubbing could play a role in causing ITB friction syndrome. Ultimately ITBS can result from activities with repetitive knee flexion and is amplified through individual biomechanical variations in running biomechanics, strength,  flexibility, as well as training habits.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific medical advice or assistance on ITB Friction Syndrome A Runners Nightmare should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist, or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.