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May 25th, 2017

Muscle of the Month : IT Band

by Kristin Stromberg, ATC
Now that running season is upon us, it is that time again where our local runners are flocking in the door to get treatment on their legs. The infamous Iliotibial band (IT Band) is working overtime and it needs some help!!

What is iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS or IT Band Syndrome) is an overuse injury of the connective tissues that are located on the lateral or outer part of thigh and knee. It causes pain and tenderness in those areas, especially just above the knee joint.  Iliotibial band syndrome is the most common cause of lateral knee pain in runners and bicyclists.

How Does This Muscle Work?

The iliotibial tract is classified as a deep fascia of the body, surrounding and connecting the muscles of the body to surrounding tissues. Like all other deep fascia, it is made almost exclusively of dense regular connective tissue. Dense regular connective tissue is a form of fibrous connective tissue that is extremely strong, tough, and avascular. It is made almost exclusively of collagen fibers and fibroblast cells, which produce collagen. Collagen is the strongest protein found in nature and is one of the strongest structures in the entire human body. The collagen fibers are arranged in a regular pattern of straight lines, giving the iliotibial tract incredible strength in the direction in which muscle force is applied to it and considerably less strength in other directions.

Functionally, the iliotibial tract extends the tensor fascia latae muscle into the lower thigh and leg, allowing it to function as an abductor, medial rotator and flexor of the thigh. It also allows the tensor fascia latae and gluteus maximus muscles to support the extension of the knee while standing, walking, running and biking.

What Can Cause IT Band Symptoms?

Iliotibial band inflammation is an overuse syndrome that occurs most often in long-distance runners, bicyclists, and other athletes who repeatedly squat. The iliotibial band syndrome may be the result of a combination of issues, including poor training habits, poor flexibility of muscle, and other mechanical imbalances in the body, especially involving the low back, pelvis, hips, and knees

What Can I do to treat the IT band??

Treatment can get started as soon as you notice any discomfort.

  1. Icing the area for up to 20 minutes a day a few times a day can help decrease the inflammation.
  2. Using either a Foam Roller, Tiger Tail, or lacrosse ball to work on getting those collagen fibers to relax.   You will want to focus on all muscles of the lower body as most times IT Band Syndrome is caused from issues which stem from the Glutes and hip flexors.  Using any one of these items may not be comfortable in the beginning of treatment and it will take some time to get used to. Over time, the discomfort will go away.
  1. It is important to have regular adjustments to make sure that the low back and hips are in alignment.  
  2. Manual therapy performed such as Graston or working with one of our massage therapists may break up tissue adhesions restricting the bodies ability to heal.
  3. Stretches and specific exercises can be added to your routine at home taught by one our licensed athletic trainers.

If you are not sure if you have IT band syndrome, just give us a call at 847-362-4476 and we can get you ready for the 2017 running season. If you mention this blog you also can get either the Foam roller or Tiger Tail for 15% off!!

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