ITB Friction Syndrome - A Runners Nightmare

Summer is upon us and with that thousands of people are taking to the streets and running. One of the main complaints we see with runners is ITB friction syndrome. The iliotibial band is a fibrous band that runs down the outside of the thigh attaching just below the knee. It crosses a bony point called the lateral femoral condyle just to the outside of the knee and here it can rub, causing a frictioning resulting in pain. This rubbing can occur, amongst other things, because of poor biomechanics. It is often related to poor foot control, a rolling in of the hip and knee due to poor strength (usually of the gluteal, or buttock, muscles) and an overuse and tightness in the muscles at the outside of the thigh. So what can you do?

Regular sports massage (learn more about our massage therapies) and rolling the outside of the thigh lying on a foam roller will help release the tight thigh muscles and is extremely beneficial. Many people stretch the ITB but in many cases this can be very detrimental as the ITB is further compressed against the bone, in the long run making things worse. Hip, knee and foot alignment must be addressed with specific strength and stability exercises to ensure the leg does not roll inwards. Shoe wear and orthotics may also need to be addressed.

Simple changes to your running may also help. Stop running hills – it is especially on the down hill that the ITB is affected. Keep your speed the same but try to increase your cadence, that is, the amount of strides you take per minute. If you are a long strider you will hit the ground further out in front of you with more force which will increase the stresses sent up the leg. Taking a shorter stride may be harder work but it reduces the length of your stride resulting is less ground reaction force as you strike. This will minimise landing stresses placed on the ITB. If you are concerned about your running style it is worth having your biomechanics assessed and to start a prevention program. If this injury is already plaguing you or if you just want to find out more please feel free to email the physios or call us on (07) 3511 1112.