Runners Beware: Iliotibial Band Syndrome

running iliotibial band syndrome
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If you’re getting back into your outdoor running routine this spring, iliotibial band syndrome is an injury you’ll want to avoid. It commonly affects runners, especially those who intensify their workout without stretching properly. Take care to ease your body back into your runs and try the stretches your physical therapist recommends if your start feeling aches and pains in your leg.

The iliotibial band is a thick, fibrous band that originates at the pelvis and ends at the shin bone. It connects your knee and gluteus muscle, which helps support your knee during destabilizing activity, like running. Iliotibial Band Syndrome occurs when the fibers of the band become irritated by friction, inflaming it. The iliotibial band usually glides over the femur bone because of a slippery bursa that lies between them. If the bursa is worn, running or walking constantly will aggravate the iliotibial band.

Symptoms

  • Pain in the knee, sometimes worse when bending the knee
  • Pain radiating from knee to hip when running or walking

Causes

Iliotibial band syndrome usually occurs in runners due to overuse and muscle fatigue. Long distance runners often experience this problem. It can also arise with improper technique during long periods of strenuous activity like running and bicycling.

Treatment with Physical Therapy

It’s a good idea to consult an orthopedist, like Dr. Leon E. Popovitz, who can recommend physical therapy right away if you feel any pain. A Physical Therapist can work manually on your leg to break down any scarred tissue that may have built up from constant irritation in the same spot. A Physical Therapist can then evaluate any underlying problems that may cause Iliotibial Band Syndrome to reoccur, including problems in posture and technique during physical activity. A routine can also be developed to help improve your runner’s gait, which often causes the friction that results in Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

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