Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What is the "IT" band anyways?

What is the "IT" band?
  • IT stands for iliotibial; named for it's origin (the ilium) and insertion (tibia)
  • Iliotibial band is a thick layer of connective tissue that extends from the iliac crest (that bone you hit when you "put your hands on your hip") down to the lateral portion of the tibia (aka. outside of the knee) linking the gluteus maximus and tensor fascia latae to the knee. 
  • In layman's terms it is a thick band that runs along the outside of the thigh containing a small muscle known as the tensor fascia latae.
  • Hip flexion, abduction, and internal rotation
  • Stabilize the knee joint laterally
(for further medical explanation of IT Band click HERE)

Most Common symptoms of Iliotibial Band Syndrome (often called Runner's Knee):
  • knee pain, aching, and/or burning along the outside of the knee (especially during activity, like running, biking, walking, etc.)
  • tenderness along the outside of the knee
  • discomfort along the outside of the thigh
**IT band syndrome is most commonly a result of overtraining, primarily in runners. In the patients I treated, I learned IT band tightness was rarely the only issue needing to be addressed.  IT band syndrome is often a result of a tight IT band, plus one or more of the following issues:  weak hip rotator muscles, sacroiliac dysfunction, abnormal gait pattern, and/or foot over pronation.

Common Treatments:
  • IT band stretching- SEE VIDEO and photo below for various techniques.

The stretch seen below does not primarily focus on the IT band, but it stretches muscles that have some insertions into the IT band, so it can be beneficial.  (Make sure to sit up tall and rotate your body towards the leg being stretched, until you experience a gentle pulling sensation in your buttock/hip region).
  • Stretching and Massage on Foam Roller (I don't have a foam roller at home, so I couldn't demonstrate, but here is a video I found.  It also includes two other stretches that can assist with IT band relief)
  • Rest-change up your training schedule.  Take a few weeks off, making sure to strengthen and stretch the IT band daily.
  • Ice the painful area.  Better yet....do an ice massage.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (as prescribed on the back of an OTC bottle)
  • Hip strengthening exercises (I am hoping to do a post on my favorites soon).
  • Adjustments in shoe wear
It is very important to stretch your IT band 2-3 times per day CONSISTENTLY, to see the best results. DO NOT stop stretching when the pain decreases or subsides, especially if you are a runner and are training for a race.  KEEP STRETCHING........IT Band Syndrome is known to return time and time again.

If the pain is not improving, I would suggest making an appointment with a Physical Therapist.  Don't be afraid when you call the physical therapy office to ask to be scheduled with a Therapist that is either a runner or is most experienced in the area of IT Band Syndrome.  Do your research on local Therapists.  I promise it will be worth it.  You may not have IT Band Syndrome and a thorough evaluation accompanied by a few treatment sessions should unveil the underlying problem, if you are being appropriately assessed during your treatment sessions.

**Disclaimer:  This post is not intended to serve as a means to diagnose IT band syndrome or substitute for a proper evaluation by a Physician and/or a Physical Therapist.  


Carolina said...

Thanks for the tips. I've often gotten a pain on the outside of my knee and they have locked up unable to run. This is very helpful.

And I don't know why but that pictue of Sam makes me laugh!

Unknown said...

Great post. I learned in November all about how kneed pain doesn't necessarily mean the problem is your knee. And I love to hate the foam roller.

Warren Baldwin said...

Wow, some great information. I am getting back into running and need to come back here and spend more time learning about this. wb

Me said...

Ouch! Sounds painful!

Rebecca B said...

Good info! It makes me want to start running. And I totally see Bennett in Sam in that picture. It must be something about his face.

Anonymous said...

I love that you are incorporating physical therapy into your blog! Looking forward to more posts!

Sandy said...

Thanks for posting this, Amber. I will start doing these.

Amanda said...

Ambo, Yeah! Love the PT post! Always enjoy learning more and your video stretch is better than the one I was using since it incorporates 3 different planes of motion. I may have to start asking for requests! Tennis elbow next, please. :) (I have a pt with (B) lateral epicondylitis that won't go away!!!)