Dr. Kevin Spahr Health Tips

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Are IT Band Problems Holding You Back From Running? We Can Help!

Running Pain

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 - Muscle Anatomy Side View

Left Leg/Pelvis - Bone Anatomy Front View

Leg Bone

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.

Risk Factors

  • Overuse
  • Inadequate Warm-Up & Cool Down
  • Muscle Strength Deficits (weakness)
  • Muscle Flexibility Deficits (tightness)
  • Poor Shoewear (inadequate support, etc.)
  • Poor Training Habits (terrain, etc.)
  • Poor Nutrition and/or Hydration
  • Postural and/or Mechanical Imbalances (leg length discrepancy, etc.)

Signs and Symtoms

  • Dull, Aching Pain at Outside of Knee During or After Activity
  • Burning Sensation at Outside of Knee During or After Activity
  • Sharp, Stabbing Pain at Outside of Knee During or After Activity
  • Snapping and/or Popping Sensation at Outside of Knee During Activity
  • Localized Swelling at Outside of Knee
  • Pain Referred Upwards to Hip or Down to Foot

Self-Care Strategies

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.

1.

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.

2.

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.

3.

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


Kevin Spahr

Kevin Spahr

Dr. Kevin Spahr, Minneapolis, MN Physical Therapist, understands that each patient is unique when it comes to injury and disease management. “The complexity of our bodies requires detailed examination and critical thinking to develop a care plan specific for each patient.” Dr. Spahr places high priority on customized treatment plans to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Kevin Spahr, originally from Winona, MN, completed his undergraduate studies at St. Mary’s University in his hometown. After graduation, he moved up to the Twin Cities metro area in 2005 to pursue his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree at St. Catherine University School of Health in Minneapolis, MN. My love and dedication to the world of physical therapy began at a young age dealing with personal injuries sustained in sports. My passion in life has always been to help others, and a physical therapist is the career path I chose. My focus is on you. My goal is to keep you happy and healthy. In his free time, Dr. Spahr enjoys spending time with his wife (Liz), dogs (Mia & Ellie), family and friends when not in the clinic. He also enjoys staying active, exercising and the outdoors.
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