Spring, Sun, Running! With more in person races and events coming up you may feel inspired to start running again. Many runners experience knee pain when they are gearing up for events. What is it? Is it your IT band?
A lot of runners that get hip or knee pain and are told that it is their IT band causing it, but is it really?
What is the ITB band?
The iliotibial band (IT band) is a line of noncontractile tissue known as fascia that runs along the outside of your leg. It connects the glute max, glute med, and TFL but is not a muscle itself. Due to this, it doesn’t have any blood flow in the tissue and doesn’t stretch like muscle does. It starts at the top of your hip as your TFL and runs down to the outside of your knee, and provides a stable platform for your legs while you walk and stand.
What is IT band syndrome?
It is often a dysfunction of the muscles surrounding the IT band that aggravates the fascial tissue, rather than the tissue itself being the root cause.
Common symptoms of ITB syndrome
click/pop on outside of knee
Painful running downhill
Pain worsens with activity
burning/achy pain that runs up the thigh to the hip
How do you treat IT band syndrome?
It is a common misconception that foam rolling the IT band itself will help relieve the pain, but foam rolling is meant to help release muscles by increasing blood flow to them. Instead of rolling the side of your leg, you can try foam rolling the quad, hamstring, or glutes on the affected side to loosen the surrounding muscles.
In addition to that, IT band syndrome often arises due to weakness in the hips, so working on glute strength could help with the pain.
If the pain persists or if you have more questions about your particular pain concerns, reach out to a PT for an injury screen or runner’s analysis to get to the root of your pain.