Illiotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) afflicts many sportspeople, in particular runners and cyclists. The painful knee condition is often blamed on over-use, but what actually causes ITBS. So how can your osteopath help you to get back in training?
What causes ITBS?
The illiotibial band (ITB) is a tough band of fibrous tissue that runs from the outside of the hip joint to just below the knee. When the knee is bent and the band becomes too tight, pain occurs.
ITBS can be an over-use problem, but is more usually due to a flexibility or strength issue affecting the stability of the pelvis and causing it to rock, which in turn causes gradual weakening of the gluteal muscles that would normally support it. The result is that the ITB shortens and tightens, causing it to rub on the bony structures on the outside of the knee, causing pain.
How your osteopath can help
If you are experiencing knee pain that you suspect might be caused by ITBS, always consult a qualified osteopath.
The osteopath will carry out a full assessment of your condition. This may include examining your leg length, and your walking and running gaits. This will help to highlight any muscular imbalances that you may have due to over-tight or weakened muscles. The osteopath will ask for details of the training programme you regularly use and will also need to see you wearing the training shoes you usually wear.
There are a number of things that your therapist might suggest to help resolve the problem.
- Painful inflammation can be reduced through icing the affected area. Ice will be applied for a 10 minutes or so, removed for the same length of time, and then reapplied. This treatment will need to be repeated until the pain is reduced.
- Various stretching exercises will be recommended including quad stretches at the front of your thigh, half squats and gluteus maximus (buttock) stretches. The osteopath will explain and walk you through how to carry out these exercises.
- Some soft tissue release techniques and manipulation may also be included in your treatment programme, together with acupuncture and sport taping.
ITBS can be a chronic condition, so you will probably need to attend a course of treatment to resolve it, followed by regular top-up appointments.
If you are suffering from knee pain and you regularly take part in sport, you could be suffering from ITBS. Make an appointment with your local osteopath (like those at Keilor Health Centre) to discuss your condition so that a course of treatment can be commenced to get you back in the game as soon as possible.