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September 27, 2011

IT Band Syndrome

Written by Dena Evans
attachmentThis month in Ask the Practitioner, we catch up with Mark Fadil, Executive Director of the Sports Medicine Institute in Palo Alto, California.  Among their many services, SMI is one of the leading orthopedic massage therapy resources in the Bay Area.

Coach: What is IT Band Syndrome?
MF: To understand IT Band Syndrome you first need to understand the IT Band.  The Iliotibial Band, or IT Band, is a dense band of connective tissue that originates in the hip (iliacus), runs down the outside of the leg and inserts just below the knee on the tibia.  Every time you bend your knee the IT Band crosses over a bony protrusion at the outside of your knee called the lateral femoral condyle.  If the band becomes tight it starts to snap more aggressively over this bone and it can then get irritated and inflamed.  When this happens you have IT Band Syndrome.

Coach: What are the common signals or symptoms of IT Band Syndrome?
MF: The most common symptom is pain at the outside of the knee.  Often times you will get warning signs before it actually gets to this point.  These signs include tightness at the outside of the hip and tightness in the lateral (outside) quad muscle.

Coach: What are a few things runners can do to prevent or ease IT Band Syndrome symptoms?
MF: There are a number of things a runner can do to prevent IT Band Syndrome.  The easiest thing to do is use a foam roller, "the stick" or some other form of self massage.  This is probably the most effective thing you can do to keep the IT Band loose.  There are a number of decent IT Band stretches but many people have a hard time getting into a position where they actually feel an effective IT Band stretch.
It is also extremely important to strengthen your gluteal muscles.  Studies have found a strong connection between weak glutes and IT Band syndrome.  I recommend that runners maintain two or three different glute strengthening exercises as part of their normal strengthening routine.

Video demonstrating Hamstring Bridge (also works glutes)
Video demonstrating Single Leg Squat
Video demonstrating Glute Stretch

I would also try to avoid or minimize running on a cambered road or slanted surface like the beach.  This will increase the tension on the IT Band and can often times lead to IT Band syndrome.

Last modified on October 04, 2012
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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