IT Band Syndrome… how do we treat it today?
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) treatments are outdated. If you’re still foam rolling your IT Band you’re wasting precious time. I’ll tell you why!
First, lets understand what the ITBS is and where it is located on the human body. ITBS is considered an over-use musculoskeletal disorder that causes compression and inflammation of tissues at the outer part of someone’s knee. The band is a a thickening of tissue called “fascia” (think thick plastic wrap over a sandwich) that runs along the side of someone’s leg from their hip to their knee. It’s a very important tissue because it controls your pelvis and knee from excessively swaying from side to side. Therefore, it plays an important role with all movements! Although not that common of an injury, when one has a “disorder” of the IT Band a patient will present with knee pain on the outer side. The knee may appear swollen especially near the side of the kneecap. Usually it is seen in people who repeatedly weight bear their hip and leg repetitively like runners, cyclists, skiers and soccer players.
More importantly, understanding how dense and strong the IT Band is matters. A study by Hans Chaudhry in 2008 showed that it takes over 2,000 pounds of force to change just 1% of the deeper IT band. Aka it’s literally impossible for you to change the tissue long term by using a foam roller for 10 minutes.
What can you do instead? Well, considering the muscles that attach to the IT Band can be strengthened and stabilized we would start there. Performing single leg balance, slow lunges, and squats are a better place to start. Improving your running form also is vital as excessive pelvic motion side to side puts undue stress in the IT Band. Additionally, having ideal core stability helps control your pelvis, hip and knee appropriately when performing these long aerobic activities.
In summary, focus on strengthening and less on foam rolling!
- Dr. Meyer