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Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

ITBS is one of the most common overuse injuries in runners, affecting 12-16% of athletes. Clinically, patients will report a sharp or burning pain on the outside of the knee, made worse through physical activity. Symptoms tend to reoccur at the same time or distance of running.

Previous thinking related ITBS to a friction injury, where the iliotibial band rubbed over the outer edge of the femur. This has since been challenged, and current research states pain is due to deeper structures being inflamed, such as fat pads or bursae.

To treat ITBS, you must know the anatomy in what feeds into the ITB. Muscle groups such as Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Tensor Fascia Lata, Biceps Femoris and Vastus Lateralis all blend into the ITB. Knowing this, any of these muscles which are overly tight must be relaxed, to then reduce pressure on the deep structures of the knee where the ITB attaches.

Pelvic girdle and hip muscle exercises should be incorporated into the rehabilitation plan with a focus on neuromuscular control and strength endurance.

Stretching of the muscle groups that feed into the ITB should be considered, as well as static ITB stretches, holding each stretch for one minutes, and repeating three times.

Running technique also needs to be assessed to observe whether this may be maintaining the injury. If necessary, running retraining should be implemented to reduce any knee valgus in the gait cycle.

ITBS is a common injury in the running world, and individuals develop this particular ailment for different reasons. This is why rehabilitation plans should be applicable to you, and you only. Generalised programmes lack focus, and increases the chances of patients disengaging from the plan ahead which can then lead to psycho-emotional challenges.


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