The IT band (ITB) is a dense, fibrous band of connective tissue that runs along the lateral thigh from the hip to the knee. ITB syndrome is the second most common pain problem among runners and the primary cause of lateral knee pain.
Conventional wisdom states that ITB syndrome is a friction disorder where the ITB rolls back and forth over the knee leading to inflammation and pain. This notion has been disproven in research demonstrating that the band is firmly anchored to the femur and cannot move in a forward and backward direction. Additionally, it does not appear that stretches targeting the ITB actually make the band more flexible.
More research is definitely needed in this area, but it does appear that certain biomechanical factors are associated with ITB syndrome including increased hip Adduction and knee internal rotation when landing on the affected leg during running.
As such, research suggests that individuals with ITB syndrome rest as needed and manage running volume so as to not increase symptom severity. Next, affected individuals should incorporate exercises to strengthen the hip Abductors and motor control exercises designed to prevent the affected limb from collapsing inwardly/medially as this may apply stress to the ITB at the lateral knee and sensitize the band and/or underlying structures.
If you believe you may be suffering from ITB syndrome, be sure to checkout our IT band syndrome program where you can learn exercises that will help reduce pain and improve your overall function.