IT band syndrome is something that a lot of athletes experience. It is particularly common among runners, but it can affect anyone. The iliotibial band is a band of tissue that runs down the leg towards the knee. If the band becomes tight or inflamed then it can cause pain, especially on the outer part of the knee.
Highlighted below is an overview of what IT band syndrome is and how to relieve some of the pain or discomfort associated with it.
IT band issues are most common in runners, with 7 to 14% of all runners suffering from problems with their IT band at some point in their running career.1 Cyclists, hikers, basketball players, swimmers, and other athletes also sometimes experience problems with their IT band.
IT band syndrome can lead to frustrating aches and pains around the knee, which can be quite debilitating. The pain is often accompanied by tightness of the IT band, causing the leg to become stiff.
Additionally, the pain may get worse during certain motions or activities. For example, a runner might find that they are fine when running on a flat surface but that they experience pain when running downhill. Since it is so common in runners, IT band syndrome is also often called “runner’s knee.” 2
Most cases of IT band syndrome will resolve themselves over time if you rest, perform the correct physical therapy, and use gentle pain relief. It is important that you cease the activity that causes pain because IT band syndrome can get worse over time if it is not managed properly. Consult your doctor your IT band syndrome symptoms don’t resolve within a few weeks.
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If you start experiencing pain and tightness around the knee while playing a sport, stop that activity immediately. You may want to try using gentle, over-the-counter painkillers to manage your pain. Some people also find that using massage oils can reduce the tension in the leg and soothe the pain.
IT band syndrome occurs when the iliotibial band becomes inflamed or irritated. This means individuals can often benefit from using anti-inflammatory substances. These can include anti-inflammatory medicines, or essential oils, herbal remedies, or diet changes that reduce inflammation.
The Active personal diffuser contains orange, black pepper, and sage is a popular choice for those who enjoy sports but also want to combat inflammation. Black pepper has been the subject of a range of studies. There is evidence to suggest that it is a powerful anti-inflammatory.3
Relieve is also a great object for soothing mild aches and pains, and these options can work in conjunction with your existing treatment regimen to provide additional relief.
Most people who suffer from IT band syndrome will find that with rest, gentle physical therapy, and modifications to their running technique, they can get better and return to physical activities within eight weeks. In some cases, surgery may be required to relieve the symptoms, but this is quite rare.4
Since IT band syndrome symptoms tend to be worse while a person is engaging in sporting activities, it’s easy to ignore them and begin exercising too early. If you are suffering from IT band issues, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, or similar issues, it is very important you resist the urge to “train through pain,” as this could lead to more serious issues.
For instance, people suffering from issues with their IT band often change their gait while running to compensate for the issues. This can lead to worse injuries. Once you experience warning signs of an injury flaring up, rest. Taking eight weeks away from running now to heal is better than being forced to take a life off because of a more severe injury or six months off because you end up needing surgery.
If you find that after six to eight weeks you are not seeing signs of improvement, consult with your doctor. Depending on how serious the injury is, they will recommend tests or physical therapy. In some cases, it could be that you would benefit from changing the route that you run. People who run downhill often are more likely to get IT band issues than people who run more on flat surfaces or varied terrain.
The human body is fascinating, and most damage can heal with the right care and attention. Sometimes, that may mean changing your activities to give yourself time to recover. Remember that this is the best choice for your long-term health. Taking some time off from training now to focus on your health will pay off in the long-run.
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