Dr. Clint Woo, DPT, PT
Iliotibial Band Sydrome (IT Band syndrome) What It Is and What To Do (Physical Therapy!)
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
The IT band is exactly as described: a band of tissue that connects your ilium (hip) to your tibia (lower leg) on the outside of your thigh. IT band syndrome (ITBS) can appear from overuse (running, cycling, squatting, etc) and poor positioning (sitting cross-legged). The band over time can tighten and compress the outside of the thigh and/or knee where the bones are the most bulbous.
Initial treatments can include the acronym RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to fight the inflammatory part of pain (consult your PT or physician). Physical Therapy is the next (and arguably the best) step (the sooner the better!) to lengthen the band, correct any muscle imbalance in your legs, and address any movement impairments as any one of these factors can cause ITB syndrome!
Some easy things to try addressing a tight IT band is to foam roll! This can be amazing if done under supervision so as to not damage your spine (trunk twisting), rolling over the hip bursa (giving your bursitis), and going to hard at the beginning. Consult a PT when trying this out! As far as assessing muscle strength, unfortunately a self test for muscle imbalance is unreliable. Find a physical therapist who will asses your lower extremities using methods such as the muscle manual test (MMT). This test will reveal if you are dominant with a particular muscle group leading to ITB syndrome. They will then create a customized routine to equalize the forces acting at your IT band! A physical therapist should also do a movement analysis to see how your form is during your hobby, chores, or while at work. We will investigate what the possible movements are and how we can adjust it so as to not aggravate the tendon! IT band syndrome can quickly take over your day as you soon realize how much action your hips and knees get. This is an absolutely fixable issue so keep your head up!
As a disclaimer, this blog post isn’t intended as professional clinical advice. We at Woo Physical Therapy and Wellness are proud to serve the Anne Arundel, Howard, and Prince George's counties in-home and online anywhere in the U.S.A.!!