< Back to Blog

Iliotibial Band Syndrome: Prevention and treatment

The most notable symptoms associated with ITBS are swelling and pain on the outside of the knee, which leads many runners to believe that they just have a knee injury. However, the most ideal way to determine if you have ITBS outside of visiting your podiatrist is to bend your knee at a 45-degree angle. If you feel pain on the outside of your knee, you may have ITBS.

What causes ITBS?

ITBS usually occurs as a result of engaging in physical activities that cause the leg to turn inward repeatedly. Overuse injuries usually occur in beginning runners, but can sometimes affect conditioned runners as well. Behaviors that can lead to ITBS include running too many miles at once, running downhill or in a lateral direction on banked surfaces, or wearing worn-out running shoes. ITBS is found to be more common in women, which health care experts suspect is partly in due to the way women’s hips tilt as they run — resulting in their knees turning in.

How can I prevent ITBS?

Since ITBS is an overuse injury, you can prevent yourself from developing the condition by taking steps to have safer workouts. Inspect your running shoes to verify the outsides of the soles aren’t worn down, and replace your shoes if necessary. Avoid running on concrete surfaces, and limit your runs to flat surfaces. Before you set off running, walk between a quarter- and half-mile to properly warm up, and either decrease your mileage or take a recovery day if the outside of your knee feels painful. Lastly, change directions often when running on an oval track, and make an appointment with your podiatrist to determine whether you need custom orthotic inserts for your running shoes.

How can I treat ITBS?

If you have ITBS and haven’t had a chance to improve your running habits, either take a break from running or run fewer miles to help relieve pain and give your body a chance to recover. During your time off from running, engage in other sports such as swimming and cycling, which are often far easier on your knees than running. Additionally, see your podiatrist to verify whether you need more serious treatments, such as surgery, which can help release and mobilize your IT band.

Are you a runner who is experiencing foot or leg pain? Call Kansas City Foot Specialists to schedule an evaluation at (913) 338-4440, or request an appointment online so we can provide you with the proper diagnosis and get you back on your feet.