If you are a keen runner, you will know that sustaining an injury can be devastating.
One of the most common injuries for runners is an Iliotibial Band Injury (or IT Band Injury). Affecting between 8 – 10% of all running injuries, it is caused by tightness and inflammation of the iliotibial band. This is a ligament which travels from the outside of the thigh, starting at the hip and working its way down to the knee crossing two joints.
The main purpose of the IT band is to stabilize your foot/ankle complex as it goes through the main three (3) phases of gait: Heel strike, mid-stance and toe-off. Once the band becomes inflamed, knee movement will become extremely uncomfortable while running becomes extremely painful.
In this blog, Anderson Peak Performance will explain the symptoms and causes of IT Band Injury. We will also tell you how to manage and help prevent it so your injury does not become a chronic one.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is pain along your iliotibial band, possibly starting at your thigh and travelling down to your knee. The most common areas of inflammation is at the Origin (above the hip joint), Midpoint (between the hip and knee) or Insertion (below the knee on the tibia (shin bone). It may begin as stiffness, but can quickly turn into a sharp, stabbing pain. You may also notice swelling around the knee on the lateral (outside) aspect and/or a tightness behind your knee. Do not fall into the trap of many runners in thinking you have a knee injury! If you feel a pain on that outside area of your leg when you bend your knee at 45 degrees, you are most probably suffering from an IT Band Injury.
What are the causes?
This darn thing called fascia. It’s a tough membranous material that helps hold muscle and allows the muscle membrane to contract and glide under the skin. The IT Band is a THICK, and to many runner’s, troublesome sheath of fascia.
Just before reaching the knee, the IT band becomes thinner. Friction can occur as the band and the bone rub together, causing inflammation at or around the insertion point. Any repetitive activity which forces the leg to turn inward makes this inflammation worse. For example: an uneven gait, altered bio-mechanics of the foot/ankle, knee, hip, low back, spine and pelvis due to a functional or structural imbalance. This can be caused by improper training, running in worn-out shoes, past history of overuse injury or the aging athlete.
How can I prevent it?
Here are some of our suggestions for preventing an Iliotibial Band Injury:
► Consult a biomechanics specialist, like a Doctor of Chiropractic, for an athletic evaluation and Movement Analysis. I suggest using the EuMotus Technology that we have at the office for a comprehensive evaluation.
► As soon as you feel any pain, decrease the amount of miles you run, cross train if possible and administer some prehab. Ignoring your injury will not make it go away – it may even result in chronic pain!
► If your running shoes are worn along the sole, replace them. Running in worn-out shoes is a key cause of IT Band Injury. In fact, many researchers suggest replacing shoes between 300 to 500 miles after first wear.
► Don’t run on hard surfaces, such as concrete. The iliotibial band helps stabilize the knee as you run. If you repeatedly run on hard surfaces, your knee will be put under continuous strain as there is little shock impact, unlike on grass. The friction between the band and the bone will become greater, resulting in IT Band Injury.
How can I treat it?
As mentioned before, prehab of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) and foam rolling is a great way to treat an ACUTE IT Band Injury. But if you are trying to keep up or increase your fitness, don’t panic! While taking a break from running, you can cross train. Sports such as swimming, cycling, or rowing have NO impact force through the lower biomechanical chain. This means no strain will be put on your knee, unlike with other cardiovascular workouts.
As with many injuries, stretching will help. In addition, massaging the inflamed area may also help to reduce any tightness or strain. A foam roller or tennis ball will work well for this!
However, if RICE and your home regimen does not improve after 3-4 weeks, it may be best to see seek professional help. This is where Anderson Peak Performance comes in.
Dr. Jeannette Anderson has over 27 years of professional sports experience, including being Medical Team Chiropractor for the National High School Track & Field Championships for over 20 years. Having run almost a dozen marathons, Dr. Jeannette knows how important it is to stay in peak performance. This is why you can trust the Anderson Peak Performance Chiropractic team with your IT Band Injury. With the EuMotus technology for evaluation of body movement, to cutting edge rehabilitation modalities like Graston Technique, Cold Laser and the Waff, Anderson Peak Performance has the tools to keep you at your Peak Performance.
If you have any questions about Iliotibial Band Injury treatment at Anderson Peak Performance, please call us on 212-581-5776, just mention this article for a Courtesy Consultation with Dr. Anderson.
You can also book an initial consultation online via our booking form.