As a runner or an athlete, you’ve likely experienced pain and swelling on the outside of the knee, making it hard to bend at a 45-degree angle. Iliotibial (IT) band injuries are one of the most common injuries among runners, so whether you’re training for a marathon or occasionally hitting the treadmill, it’s a good idea to know how to treat and prevent this kind of injury, to avoid having to skip any future workouts and experience any pain.
What exactly is an IT band injury?
The IT band is a ligament that helps to move and stabilize the joint, running down the outside of the thigh all the way from the hip to the shin. This injury occurs when the ligament is inflamed, causing the movement of the knee to become painful.
Warning signs of an injury
The sharp pain begins on the outside of the knee, concentrated in one single location. Many people will experience a tightness on the outside of the thigh and hip. Runners will likely experience pain whenever they run, as well as a loss of flexibility in the knee and a tenderness on the outside of it as well. Cyclists can also experience pain when the knee is bent at 30 degrees, during downward or upward pedal strokes.
How IT band injuries happen
Activities that force the leg to turn inward repeatedly are likely to cause IT band injuries. This happens from running downhill, excessive training like running too many miles, or if you’re a track runner, this can happen from running in the same direction on the track repeatedly. This injury can occur in anyone from seasoned runners to beginners, which is why it’s important to know how to prevent it from happening to you.
Steps to preventing this injury
After reading how IT band injuries occur, you’ll likely already be able to piece together what steps you should take to prevent this injury, such as running on the flatter part of the road (being mindful of traffic and your personal safety). It’s also important to decrease your mileage from time to time, and take a few days off as well. Remember, rest is good and a necessary part of training. If you’re a track runner, change directions during your workouts.
I have an IT band injury; how do I treat it?
As mentioned, it’s important to take time to rest, especially when you have an injury. Run less, or take time off during that time. If proper rest is not taken, your injury can turn into chronic pain. Consider picking up cycling or swimming. It’s also important to keep ice or heat on your injury, as well as remembering to stretch.
This article was adapted from Runner’s World. Read the full article here.
If you have any questions about IT band injuries, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.