The iliotibial band is a thick fibrous band that runs along the outside of the leg, starting at the hip and ending just below the knees. It is actually the thicker tendon-like part of another leg muscle. It works with multiple thigh muscles to help stabilize the outside of the knee joint.
What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)?
This condition occurs when the iliotibial band becomes overworked and can no longer fully support the knee joint. Because of this, the knee then picks up the slack and becomes overstressed as well. A person with ITBS will feel typically feel pain in the knee. Unlike a muscle sprain, the pain does not occur in a sudden instant. It will start out as a little pinch and then grow to be much more extreme and irritating.
What causes ITBS?
Many situations can cause the ITB to become overworked. Things like exercising on hard surfaces or uneven ground, increasing exercise duration or intensity too quickly, or exercising in improper shoes are all potential causes. This is usually found to be a runner’s or cyclist’s injury.
How can you treat it?
Treatment for ITBS is not unlike other soft-tissue injuries, such as a sprained ankle. First, rest your knee. Don’t continue to overwork it, or the problem might become more serious. Secondly, ice it down. This will help with inflammation. You can also take some form of anti-inflammatory medication. Thirdly, compress it. An Ace bandage or something similar will help stabilize the joint. Lastly, elevate the knee whenever you can. For ongoing treatment, make sure to stretch your leg and thigh muscles regularly. This will help keep these muscles supportive and limber.
Can you prevent it?
There are multiple ways to decrease the chances of getting ITBS. Make sure are carry out the proper warm-ups before working out. This will help ensure that the muscles are not too stiff to take on the challenge. You also have to keep you thigh muscles strong and conditioned, especially your quads. Keeping up leg exercises and stretching are a must. Be sure to wear the proper shoes that are fully supportive and increase your exercises intensity slowly.
*If pain is too severe to walk or does not go away, consult a doctor.