What is ITB?
ITB is an abbreviation for the Ilio-Tibial Band. This band stretches from the hip area, goes down the side of the leg and anchors in on the upper section of the tibia. The simplest definition for the purpose of the band is this: It is a strap on the outside of the leg that keeps the outside of the leg from falling out.
What happens when things go wrong?
As you straighten your leg the band moves across your knee joint. There is a bump on the knee called the lateral condyle. In very simplistic terms, the pain felt with ITB Syndrome is caused by friction between the band and the bony protuberance.
ITB Syndrome and Triathletes.
ITB is always more difficult to treat when it comes to the Triathlete. Any or all three of the disciplines can contribute to this very painful condition. The trick is to try and reduce the irritation caused on the band in all three disciplines.
Should you be suffering from ITB Syndrome you can look at the following adjustments:
Reduce the amount of leg work in your swimming sets. Most open water swimmers rely on upper body strength more than a strong kick in any case. Cut out your kicking sets totally and look at using a pool buoy during your workouts.
Make sure that you have had your bike setup properly, and that your setup specialist understands how to set the bike up taking ITB issues into account.
Saddle height and proper cleat setup in vital.
Make sure that you get to a specialist running shop, so that your running gait can be analysed properly. In general terms you want to get into the softest shoes possible. However your rate of Pronation or Supination should be properly assessed. You will benefit as well from having someone analyse your running gait and giving you tips as to how to run more efficiently.
Avoid running on heavily cambered roads. These place tremendous strain on the band. A lot of South African runners get ITB Syndrome on the right knee. This is because we tend to run on the right hand side of the road which places lateral strain on the right knee.
Some general tips.
Stretch, Massage and Ice.
Make sure that your hamstrings and quadriceps are well stretched. You should also go for a Thomas Test. This is a simple test that gives a Physiotherapist, Biokineticist or Specialist Run Advisor an indication of the status of two critical muscles, namely the rectus formis and iliopsoas muscles, and the IT band.
We advise our athletes to massage the band after a workout. This can be done by massaging the band with the palm of your hand. Always massage along the belly of the muscle, and not over the knee or hip joint.
Ice the site a number of times a day if possible.
We also run a soft tissue massage program that has had very good results.
Remember, ITB Syndrome is unlikely to go away on its own; tackle this injury proactively.