Iliotibial ban syndrome (ITBS) is a very common injury among runners. It is characterised by a stinging sensation on the outside of the knee. Pain might not arise at the beginning of your run, but it may get worse with time. If you have ITBS, you will feel the pain at its maximum intensity when you knee is bended at 45 degrees.
The iliotibial band is thick tissue on the external side of your knee which runs from your pelvis to the bottom of your knee. While you run, the iliotibial band moves from behind the femur to the front of the femur. This repetitive movement can cause inflammation of the tissue if there is stress associated.
What does science have to say?
ITBS has been widely studied by researchers, here are some key facts:
- Maximum supination velocity, maximum braking force, weekly mileage and maximum normalized braking force are significant discriminators for ITBS (1)
- Increasing step width during running, especially in persons characterized by a narrow step width, may be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of ITBS (2)
- Subtalar joint eversion (i.e. pronation) was significantly lower at touchdown in the ITBS (3)
- Runners with ITBS have a greater peak rearfoot invertor moment (i.e. supination) (4)
How to avoid it?
Researchers have demonstrated that ITBS is highly correlated with supination. A supinator will have his knee naturally bended towards the external side. In that configuration, the iliotibial band will rub against the femur at every stride, causing the inflammation and the pain. It is therefore crucial to measure your pronation/supination continuously to make sure you can deal with ITBS and avoid getting injured.
Step width might also be linked to ITBS but there are fewer proofs demonstrated this correlation.
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