Iliotibial Band Syndrome and How Physiotherapy and Sports Rehabilitation Can Help

As the good weather approaches, so too does the athletic season and a plethora of triathlon events begin to take place. Recent physiotherapy and sports rehabilitation news articles have focused on triathlon and overuse injuries and where on the triathlon course those injuries occur and iliotibial band (ITB) injuries are a common injury, but exactly what do they entail and how are they treated?

Iliotibial band syndrome is accredited to being one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in athletes, in particular with runners. Running from the pelvis and down the outside of the thigh, and inserting below the knee on the outer aspect, the iliotibial band, or ITB, works in conjunction with the other muscles of the hip to extend, abduct and rotate the hip outwards, and it also works to stabilise the outside of the knee through extension and flexiom. Therefore, it is used continually when walking and running.

Some of the training habits that can contribute towards iliotibial band injuries include; consistently running on banked surfaces. This causes the downhill-positioned leg to bend slightly inward. This triggers extreme stretching of the band against the femur. Excessive up-hill and downhill running (and indeed upstairs and downstairs) also have a negative effect. Inadequate warm-up and cool-down is another common contributory factor. But it’s not all running-orientated activity that can negatively contribute towards ITB problems; rowing, treading water, breaststroke and positioning the feet ‘toed-in’ to an excessive angle when cycling are all linked to the condition.

Because of their adoption of most of the above activities, triathlon athletes often encounter problems with the iliotibial band and the problem is when the band begins to rub over the thigh bone, causing pain over the knee joint; pain which might extend up the outside of the thigh, or down the outside of the shin. Athletes experience pain during activity and pain relieves when resting. The rubbing experience can occur for a number of reasons and it’s often associated with changes to the mechanisms of the hip, knee, or foot.

Treating ITB problems during the initial and acute stages can include ice packs and rest. Ongoing treatment focuses on targeted stretching, muscle strengthening and correction of biomechanical problems, such as over-pronation, in conjunction with a Derby Physiotherapy and/or Derby Sports Rehabilitation specialist. To find a reputable Derby Physiotherapist and Sports Rehabilitation specialist, look for good reviews online or ask your GP for recommendations.