A Runner’s Nightmare: Iliotibial Band Syndome – Nanaimo Chiropractor

Hi there. For this post, I thought I would cover one of the most common running injuries: iliotibial band syndrome or  ITB syndrome. Many a runner has been sidelined for long stretches of time by this condition, so let’s give you the information you need to sort it out.

The iliotibial band, is a connective tissue sheet that runs along the outside (lateral) thigh. It connects to the crest of your pelvis (where you would put you hands if I said put your hands on your hips) to your shin bone (tibia) just below your knee. The IT band’s anatomy is comlex but it’s main job is to stabilise the knee. Most people are blissfully unaware of the IT band’s existance until it starts givng you pain: iliotibial band syndrome.

The syndrome typically gives pain on the lateral aspect of the knee, especially if running downhill or walking downstairs. Other than a sprain, little else will give you pain on the outside of your knee, so it makes diagnosis pretty easy. At the upper outer thigh, the ITB passes over the greater trochanter, which is a bony prominence of the femur close to the hip joint. If the ITB is tight it may rub against the greater trochanter and give upper “hip” pain. The ITB can alsocause a “hip snapping” which is an audible snapping that the ITB makes as it moves over the greater trochanter when walking.

Some of the possible contributing factors for ITB problems are:

  • Over pronation, which is when people have a low arch to their foot.
  • Building running distance too quickly.
  • Too much hill work.
  • Tight glutes. The Gluteus maximus attaches into the ITB. If it’s tight it can be a complicating factor.
  • Pelvic misalignment: If the pelvis has misaligned the ITB may be pulled tighter on one side. This MUST be especially considered if the ITB syndrome is on one side only. Overuse generally produces ITB syndrome on BOTH sides.
Note the asymmetry in the pelvis in the x-ray above. This will pull the ITB tight on one side, leading to unilateral ITB syndrome.
Effective management of this condition includes:
  • Proper footwear, but you already know the importance of having the right shoe, don’t you?
  • Rest or ease back from running with a slow build into hill/stair workouts.
  • Ice the ITB to reduce inflammation. 20minutes / hour is a good guideline. Be sure to place a T-shirt or tea towel between the ice pack and the skin. Avoid anti-inflammatories as they can actually lead to injury.
  • Stretch the ITB. A good sports chiropractor should be able to give you a couple of good stretches for this. *NOTE* this is an extremely thick piece of connective tissue and is not a muscle. It requires dedicated work and gives slow progress. I’m a big fan of take-home stretches as soft tissue work done occassionally in the office simply isn’t enough.
  • Stretch the glutes. No, tight glutes aren’t always the cause, but it doesn’t hurt to stretch them out.
  • Address the faulty pelvic mechanics. This is where your chiropractor comes into play. If possible, try to find one who has a good working knowledge of sports injuries. Again, consideration of a pelvic misalignment is essential if you have ITB syndrome on one side only.

I’ve treated this condition a LOT. If you have any questions, why not give the office a call, Pure Chiropractic, Nanaimo, 250-585-8866.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/4312521610/sizes/s/in/set-72157623178901421/

9 Responses to “A Runner’s Nightmare: Iliotibial Band Syndome – Nanaimo Chiropractor”

  1. It has been found that ITB syndrome responds well with chiropractic treatment without the use of pain medications or surgery. If you prefer home remedies, you can try ice, stretching, and footwear modifications.


  2. Obesity is also a cause for iliotibial band syndrome or ITB syndrome. It also increases the risk of degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knee.

    buy alli

  3. a few months ago I was trying to go for a run…I run about 25 miles a week. anyway. leg would not work. I’m stubborn so it took me some time to go find out my hips were out of alignment and my it band was all screwed up now. I had no pain so I thought it would just go away …anyway now 2 months of chiro {they keep coming out of alignment} and 1 month of PT with hip strengthening exercises as well as it band stretches…I still can not walk downhill with out looking like I’m ninty. I no longer pronate that foot as an injury result and I’m no longer daunted by walking fifty feet and most days now I can even take my nephew for a walk in stroller as longAS i AVOID SLOPES…..but once in a while still BAD days…when will I see more results as far as my leg actually allowing me to run

  4. A lot of information in the article are very helpful to our Treatment, very good article, Keep up the good! It is worthy of my learning,thank you for sharing this info.
    home chiropractic