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  • Writer's pictureNashville PT

IT-Band Issues in Runners, an Often Chronic Issue

It’s not uncommon to hear runners complain of having “IT-Band Syndrome”, but what exactly is this and what causes it?

The iliotibial band (IT-band) is a thick band of fascia that runs along the outside of your thigh, from your hip to your knee. With continuous repetitive motions, such as running, pain can develop on the outside of the knee or even at the outside of the hip. When runners experience this, they often begin doing stretches for their IT-band and/or rolling their IT-band using a foam roller. While these options (stretching and rolling) can be helpful short-term, runners often find that once they return to their prior mileage or increase their running mileage, the same symptoms return.

IT-band syndrome becomes a vicious cycle: Pain occurs with running -> stop running (or decrease mileage) -> stretch/roll IT band -> feel better -> return to running/increase mileage -> pain returns -> stop running (or decrease mileage) -> etc.

When a runner gets frustrated enough with the vicious cycle, they may (finally) seek assistance by a physical therapist. But what’s even more frustrating is that many runners who have been through a course of PT, find that their pain STILL comes back when they return to their full running program.

If this is you, you are not alone! And it does NOT mean that you have to quit running!

We see this happen all the time. Runners receive exercises that “typically” help “most people”, “most of the time.” Why do some people develop chronic issues in which their symptoms continue to return every time they go back to their full activity? It’s because the RESULT of the problem (pain, tightness, etc.) was treated, but the CAUSE (faulty movement pattern) of the problem was NOT addressed.

Therefore, when you return to activity, the problem will return. Every. Single. Time.

If this is you, I’ll let you in on a little secret: no amount of stretching or rolling will fix it. You need a different solution!

The only way small faulty movement patterns associated with your running gait can be 1) identified, 2) correlated with your clinical assessment, and 3) corrected, is to perform a detailed running analysis which includes slow-motion video capture and a frame-by-frame analysis of your body positions and joint positions throughout the phases of running. If this has not been performed, and you are one of those runners whose symptoms continue to return when you resume your running program, then the true CAUSE of your condition has not been appropriately identified. Therefore, it cannot be appropriately treated.

Here are a few reasons why high-level running analyses are not performed at all PT clinics:

- This type of analysis is not only time intensive, requiring one-on-one care with a PT, but in addition to the increased time it takes to perform this type of analysis, insurance reimbursement is just not there for this type of specialty service.

- Few PT’s have advanced education and training on running analysis and associated exercise prescription that includes movement re-training.

At Nashville Physical Therapy & Performance, we understand that the underlying CAUSE of your running issue is often missed, which is why we take your testing to the next level. Given that we are not constrained by insurance limitations, our runners receive a higher level of one-on-one care, and we have the ability to take the extra time to perform a detailed video assessment of your running gait so that the true underlying CAUSE of the problem can be identified and treated accordingly. We work to find the solution that you are looking for: to get rid of the IT-band issue and keep it from coming back.

Schedule your appointment for a running analysis today by clicking here or calling us at 615-428-9213.

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