A runner’s nemesis: Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome and how to manage it

Illiotibial band friction syndrome – also known as ITB syndrome, ITBFS or ITBS – is a common issue experienced by runners, cyclists and endurance athletes. It is often due to overuse and happens when the iliotibial band (a thick band of connective tissue running from the outside of your hip to the outside of your knee) is inflamed.

What causes ITB friction syndrome?

Traditionally, it was thought that ITB friction syndrome was caused by friction between the ITB and the rounded bony eminence on the femur called the lateral epicondyle. However more recent research suggests that the pain is caused by compressive loads due to tension of the muscle and tissue around the femoral epicondyle.

What does ITB friction syndrome feel like?

If you’re experiencing ITB friction syndrome, you’ll most likely have pain or aching on the side of the knee, which is aggravated by running or cycling. People often notice the pain occurs at the same time/distance when exercising. Longer training sessions, downhill running often aggrevate ITB friction syndrome.

Will physiotherapy help with my ITB friction syndrome?

Yes! At our Yeronga clinic, Aeon Health Physiotherapy and Rehab, we treat a number of people experiencing ITB friction syndrome. Treatment will not only simply address the local symptoms or pain but also look at the foot and hip biomechanics to allow you to manage the issue longer-term.

Our treatment methods can include soft tissue treatment, trigger point work as well as dry needling. Our physiotherapists will also recommend a series of exercises to help you manage your ITB friction syndrome such as stretching, self-massage and trigger point release exercises you can do at home.

We may also recommend joining our strength, conditioning and rehabilitation classes where you will work on a program designed specifically for you to help build strength and endurance in key muscle groups around your knees and hips to minimize the risk of encountering ITB friction syndrome in the future.

We can also work with you on your running technique and bike set up and offer specific advice to help you to optimize your running and cycling, to help avoid flare ups of ITB friction syndrome.

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