What is the IT Band?
The IT Band is composed of fibrous connective tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh. IT stands for ILIOTIBIAL, which is in reference to the primary connection sites of the band including the ilium bone of the pelvis at the top, and the tibia bone of the lower leg at the bottom. Dependent on the degree of bend in the knee during running, the IT band will have different levels of laxity (loose) or tautness (tight).
Left Leg/Pelvis - Muscle Anatomy Side View
Left Leg/Pelvis - Bone Anatomy Front View
What is IT Band Syndrome?
IT band syndrome is a condition that commonly affect runners. As the knee bends, the IT band moves posterior (backward) over the bony projections of the femur. As the knee straightens, the IT band moves anterior (forward) over the bony projections of the femur.
When running, depending on distance, this back and forth motion of the IT band over the bony projections can occur thousands of times! Problems begin to present when these repeated motions generate excessive friction. Friction over time can lead to such things as inflammation, tightness, pain and a decline in the inability to participate in tasks we enjoy in life including running.
Signs and Symtoms
Primary focus at immediate onset of IT band pain is to decrease inflammation. Below is a list of some general self-care strategies to assist you in managing the symptoms.
Icing – Ice the painful area at minimum three times per day x20 minutes to assist in decreasing inflammation. If possible, on/off icing intervals x20 minutes can also be implemented to more aggressively manage the symptoms dependent on time availability.
Rest – When it comes to IT band pain with running, it can be wise to take some time off to help further decrease inflammation (2-4 days). This strategy is vital if rest hasn’t yet been implemented, and the pain continues to persist with running tasks. Even more so, if pain begins to present itself in normal everyday tasks like walking, going up/down stairs, getting in/out of chairs, etc.
Self-Massage or Foam Rolling – Self-massage or light foam rolling may assist in managing the inflammation at the area of pain. The IT band tends to become tight and restricted with inflammation. However, caution should be taken with this strategy as the IT band can become quite sensitive when inflamed from running. Pay close attention to how your body responds, and make sure you aren’t making things worse by being too aggressive.
If the basic self-care strategies fail to completely resolve symptoms in 7 days or the condition gets worse, we strongly advise scheduling an appointment with one of expert Physical Therapists at PRO Therapy. Our specialist providers have extensive experience managing running injuries including those involving the IT band.
If you want the quickest path to get back to pain-free running, which YOU enjoy and love, get in touch with us today! Contact us directly at 612-767-9917