The term ITBS gets thrown around a lot in the sporting community, but it’s come to be misused as a kind of umbrella term for knee injuries. There are a lot of common misconceptions surrounding ITBS, or iliotibial band syndrome, which can lead to home treatments doing more harm than good. 

What is ITBS?

As our physios James, Merv and Damian discuss in their video seminar on ITBS, ITBS is a common injury for runners. It affects the iliotibial band, which is the tendon connecting the two outer thigh muscles to the knee. It manifests itself as running-related pain on the outside of the knee. 

What Causes ITB Syndrome?

ITB Syndrome is historically called ITB Friction Syndrome, because of the friction between the iliotibial band tendon and the bone that causes pain to runners. As Dr James explains in his ITB seminar, iliotibial band pain, Achilles pain and virtually any tendon pain are all manifestations of the same issue: irritation of the tendons. Put simply, ITBS is an overuse injury that’s caused by prolonged, excessive or suddenly increased exercise that puts a heavy loading on the tendon. It’s usually caused by running, but once it sets in it can be irritated by non-impact movements like cycling. 

Strengthening for ITB Syndrome

As Dr James goes on to explain, the muscles can act as buffers for the tendons. Every running stride results in impact forces up to 2 x body weight being absorbed by the muscles and tendons. Stronger gluteal muscles will act as a buffer to protect the tendon from the impact. 

Dr James says “you don’t often see tendon problems where strength deficiencies aren’t the number one thing that’s given rise to ITBS, so getting strong is the big solution to getting over this”. The key though, is to strengthen the muscles in the right way. Each individual will have a different starting point and a different set of physiological circumstances that will determine the right strengthening methods to follow. If you suffer from tendon pain, talk to your physiotherapist about finding the right strengthening and conditioning exercises for you.

Training with ITB Syndrome

Dr James also advises moderating your running to achieve a steady, gradual increase in reloading. “We just don’t ever see anyone coming in saying ‘I’ve been running this really steady amount and it’s not fluctuating much and I’ve just been gradually increasing and all of a sudden I got a tendon problem’. That just doesn’t happen.” 

Things to Keep in Mind

There are various types of tendonitis which each require different treatment methods, so it’s best not to self-treat. To relieve the pain, speak to your physiotherapist or pharmacist about whether anti-inflammatories might be right for you. In the meantime, try ice or heat treatments and avoid stretching the tendon. 

To get a full assessment of your injury and start treatment today, make an appointment at our Mosman Park, Perth CBD or West Perth physiotherapy clinics. Call 08 9481 1003 to book or fill out our quick online form for enquiries.

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