Running with ITB syndrome – You don’t want it!

Running with ITB syndrome – You don’t want it!

ITB syndrome stands for Iliotibial band syndrome and is not your friend!  This usually occurs with runners as they continuously pound the tarmac causing pressure to build up in their lower limbs.  Let’s just have a look at what ITB syndrome is all about first.

Your iliotibial band runs down from your pelvis and attaches to the top of your shin bone (tibia).  This band is basically a tendon structure and its main job is for stabilising your knee when you walk/run.  So as you participate in that race for life event you happily run, not knowing what is going on internally and suddenly feel a stinging sensation.  What is that you must wonder.  That is your ITB annoying you!  So basically this tendon type structure rubs back and forth over a bony outcrop on your knee which again stabilises it.  So when this band slips out of that alignment and starts to rub against other structures in your leg, then you have a problem.  This in turn causes friction to build up within the band and this leads to inflammation and you will hear a click in your knee when you run.  Annoying right ?  If you don’t get this treated then this friction will build up within the band and cause scarring to occur and this in turn tightens the IT band, limiting the blood flow.  This can cause all sorts of problems, problems you can just simply live without, especially if you have a busy work schedule, your other half is being..well your other half, your baby crying and waking you up at stupid o’clock etc etc.  So this then can lead to more stress and we all know what stress can lead to…plenty of problems ranging from fat gain to arthritis.

So why does this occur then you say?  Well if you have say put on a few extra pounds, have poor running efficiency, muscle imbalances  even running excessive uphills , they call all contribute to ITB syndrome.  There are other factors such as increasing intensity too fast, problems with your gait, excessive wear especially on the outside of your shoes and even running on the shoulder of a road or a track.  So yea there are lots of causes for this annoyance.  But luckily for all you runners there is a solution and it is….

Exercise!  Yes even runners who think that running is the only exercise they need well no they need to be doing some resistance training to help strengthen their muscles and avoid muscle imbalances.  You need to strengthen your core and glute muscles.  Try exercises such as:

Donkey kicks

Lying ITB stretches

Side lying clamshells

Side lying leg lifts

Jump squats


Side planks

Also coupled with these strength exercises you should also stretch out and relax that IT band.  Think of it like when you go to get a massage you feel relaxed after it, you’re mentally and physically relaxed.  Well it’s the same for your muscles.  Think of them as having their own mind and they need to release some steam too.  One of the best ways of releasing tension from your IT band is to invest in a foam roller which will iron out any stubborn muscle fibers and release tension from the band.  Remember muscles are visco-elastic meaning they’ll show a certain viscosity when contracted and when the tension has been released they will try and spring back to their normal elastic length.  However, with repetitive use and lack of stretches they aren’t able to return to their normal state and this is when problems occur.  So get that foam roller and stretch over your band!

So the bottom line to see yourself at the finish line you need to carry out strengthening exercises especially for your gluteals, core and quads to condition that band and also perform stretches with that foam roller!

Hope this helps all you runners out there as we all want you to be successful in all your races, even for that recreational runner, we want you to stay injury free!  Hope this article helps and get your exercises in order before you hit the tarmac!