IT Band Syndrome is one possibility, especially for people who run a lot of miles. This can be aggravating, especially after using common at-home treatments like foam rolling or attempting to stretch the affected area. Ice can provide temporary comfort, but what can you do about it?
In the parts that follow, we'll go over what IT Band Syndrome is, how it's caused, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again. If you wish to learn more about IT Band Syndrome, we've included a link below; otherwise, we'll discuss our approach to the disease.
IT or Iliotibial Band Syndrome is described as the burning compression of the lower part of the IT Band against the femoral condyle. The IT band starts as an attachment to the gluteus maximus, medius, and tensor fascia latae muscles at the pelvis and continues down to Geordy’s tubercle on the lateral tibia just past the knee. The band also has attachment points along the femur to lessen the bending forces of the femur.
We previously thought it was a friction issue caused by the tendon snapping back and forth over the lateral condyle of the femur, but more recent research shows it is more compression insult with maximal compression at 30° of knee flexion.
Since compression seems to be the issue with this injury, a common misconception is to foam roll your IT band if painful. Not only does this increase the compression on the band which is counterproductive, but we also figured out in a cadaver study that the IT band only stretches .02% with maximal stretch and tensile strength of 7800 psi or pound for pound as strong as soft steel.
There are multiple reasons for this compression that will help us understand how to help you be more effective with your treatment of this syndrome. The two most common causes are improper biomechanics and tight or weak hip muscles.