The Illiotibial Band
The Iliotibial band, or IT band, is a thick cord that starts at the hip (ilium), runs along the outside of the leg, and attaches on the outside edge of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee joint. It functions to stabilize the outside of the knee. IT band syndrome can cause pain from the outside of the knee down the thigh upon movement.
IT Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band can become inflamed when it is overused or over-trained, if you increase your training regimen too quickly, or if you try to return too quickly form an injury. In certain cases, an anatomical irregularity can also cause inflammation. Irregularities such as bowed legs, pigeon toes, or instances where one's legs are different lengths. IT band syndrome often occurs in track runners who only take turn in one direction. Excessive banking can cause the outside of the foot to sit higher than the inside, and in effect turn the pelvis to overstress the IT band.
Traditionally, there is sac, or bursa, at the sites where the IT band crosses a bone or a muscle. The bursa allows for the band to glide smoothly across the intersection points. When irritated and inflamed, the contact is not smooth and the consequence is pain.
To treat IT band syndrome, use the R.I.C.E principles. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Avoid stressing the area and wrap ice tightly around the affected leg. Elevation and ice help reduce swelling by slowing the blood flow and keeping excess blood from pooling in the injured area. An Anti-inflammatory will also help reduce pain and inflammation.