This is a particularly common problem in long distance runners
The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a large fibrous structure which runs from high up on the hip, down the outside of your leg, to insert into the lower leg (Tibia), just below the knee joint. The ITB can be felt by bending the leg and running your figers down the outside of your leg, stopping at the knee. The main function of this structure is to stabililse the knee and hip. It also helps to control the internal rotation of the lower limb.
ITB Friction Syndrome (ITBFS) occurs when there is an irritation or inflammation of the ITB as it rounds the outside of the knee. At this point there is a small sac of fluid (Bursa) which is designed to reduce the friction between the bone and the ITB. This may also become inflamed, compounding the problem.
Possible Risk Factors in ITBFS:
- Training Errors – Running with high weekly mileage, sudden increases in the amount of running or a sudden change in the training terrain, such as running more on hills, can result in ITBFS.
- Poor Lower Limb Bi-Mechanics – This includes such anomalies as increased movement in the feet (Hyperpronation), excessive bowing of the legs or a leg length discrepancy. These are a few of the many possible problems in this area.
- Muscle Weakness or Imbalance – The muscles that insert into the ITB can become weakened or out of balance and this situation has the effect of altering the alignment of the ITB adding to the friction problems.
- Footwear – Wearing footwear that is not suited to your foot type, as well as excessively worn or old shoes, may also contribute to ITBFS.