by G. John Mullen, DPT 2011
Who doesn’t want to be in great shape? Ask around and you’ll be hard pressed to find an individual that is actively trying to be out of shape. So what is it that we, as a society, do when we decide to get in shape? We go running. Running is the most popular and simplest form of exercise. The most popular and simplest form of exercise is running. Running is great cardiovascular exercise, however many injuries stem from running and often arise from doing too much too early. One of the most common injuries is iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBFS). This injury can linger for long periods of time without quick and proper treatment but if assessed and treated soon, the effects can be mitigated.
Stat Fact: Health club memberships typically increase 12% in the month of January (4).
What is ITBFS?
The iliotibial band is a fibrous band that runs on the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee. It is generally firm, but as it is irritated it may become extremely tough and sensitive. Irritation of the iliotibial band can be due to poor biomechanics, anatomical flaws or muscle weakness. Many of the biomechanical flaws stem from muscle weakness, but the anatomical flaws are a bit trickier. The main anatomical flaw is flat feet, which causes your knee to internally rotate with each step, subsequently stretching your IT band. While stretching is typically good, when done repeatedly it can break down the tissue and inflammation and tightness can occur. The most common biomechanical flaw is too much hip adduction (bringing your thigh bones close to one another) and internal rotation (rotation of the knee inward) of the thigh bone (femur). This motion is controlled by the gluteus maximus (the upper fibers to be exact…also the sexiest muscle in the body) and if this muscle is weak it can cause repeated stretching of the muscle leading to problems similar to those seen with anatomical flaws. These are the main causes of ITBFS, but many other anatomical issues may cause ITBFS (leg length discrepancy, bowed legs, previous injury, improper footwear, etc.). However, simple muscle strengthening is not the solution, especially if you already have ITBFS. Read the rest of this entry →