22nd April, 2017
As one of the most common overuse injuries experienced by runners, you’ve probably heard of iliotibial (IT) band syndrome before but you may not know exactly what it is or how to treat it effectively.
You might have hip pain or thigh pain but the most common symptom of IT band syndrome is pain on the outside of the knee. A quick look at the anatomy and location of the IT band explains why:
Your IT band runs down the side of your thigh from your hip to the outside of your knee, helping to stabilise your pelvis and knee joints when you move. If the IT band becomes tight then it can rub on the thigh bone where it wraps around the side of your knee. This friction causes inflammation and leg pain.
Don’t bother trying to stretch your IT band, it’s not designed to lengthen like a muscle does. Stretch out around your hips instead for better results.
If your buttock muscles (glutes) are weak, smaller muscles around your hips have to work harder than they should. One of these small muscles – Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) – attaches directly to the IT band, so if it is overworking this causes tension to build up in the band itself.
So to treat the underlying cause of IT band friction syndrome you have to strengthen your glutes while trying to keep the work for TFL to a minimum. Here are a few of our favorite exercises to achieve this.
Side-lying leg lifts
Side lying leg lifts are the most effective way of targeting your outer glutes, without firing up your TFL. It’s ideal for early stage rehab when your knee is still sore and it looks easy but lots of people don’t do this exercise correctly. Getting your leg in exactly the right position is the key:
Single leg bridge
Single leg bridge is another great way of strength and conditioning exercise for runners:
Standing side-steps with elastic exercise band
As soon as you are able, without causing any pain, it’s important to move on the strengthening your glutes while you are on your feet. Try side stepping into a resistance band:
When you’re pain free during all normal daily activities again, you can start to build up your running again. You’ll need to start at a comfortable level and increase things gradually. Interval training can be helpful initially.
As always, get in touch if you have any questions at all!
The Physiofit Team
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