Understanding Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome

POSTED: 11 Feb, 2024

Are you a runner experiencing pain on the outer side of your knee? This discomfort, often worsened by increasing distance or downhill running, might be Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome (ITBS), affecting 7-14% of runners. While common in runners, ITBS also impacts cyclists and athletes in various sports.

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)?

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is an inflammation of the iliotibial band, a fibrous tissue running from the hip to the shin on the thigh’s outside, caused by overuse and repetitive knee movements. Common in runners and athletes, ITBS leads to pain on the knee’s outer side, emphasizing the need for proper training and preventive strategies to avoid its onset.

Understanding a typical case of ITBS

“ A 25-year-old woman has recently started training for her first marathon. When she increased her running distance from 10 to 18 km she started getting pain on the outer side of her knee and tightness. It occurs at the same distance each time she runs, and gets worse running downhill.”

Symptoms to Look Out For

  • Outer knee pain during or after activity
  • Tightness or tenderness in the knee
  • Swelling in more severe instances

Prevention and Management Tips

  • Limit activities that exacerbate the pain
  • Apply ice and consider over-the-counter pain relief if necessary
  • Incorporate hip and knee stretches with strengthening exercises into your routine

The Importance of a Balanced Approach

Recent research, including a study by Friede et al. (2022), highlights that stretching alone isn’t sufficient for treating ITBS. A combination of stretching and strengthening exercises offers a more effective solution.

At Integrate Physiotherapy, we understand the intricacies of ITBS. Our team provides comprehensive assessments to identify the root causes of your pain, offering tailored treatment plans to restore your function and get you back to your active lifestyle.

Invest in Your Health

Don’t let ITBS sideline your fitness goals. Understanding the syndrome, recognizing its symptoms, and seeking professional guidance can help you maintain your running routine pain-free.

Our team at Integrate Physiotherapy will provide a full assessment to understand your condition and current function. Our team will help with your pain and improve your function back to your everyday life.


  • A retrospective case-control analysis of 2002 running injuries. Br J Sports Med2002;36:95101.doi:10.1136/bjsm.36.2.95 pmid:11916889
  • Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long-distance runners: a systematic reviewBr J Sports Med2007;41:46980, discussion 480.doi:10.1136/bjsm.2006.033548 pmid:17473005
  • Friede, M. C., Innerhofer, G., Fink, C., Alegre, L. M., & Csapo, R. (2022). Conservative treatment of iliotibial band syndrome in runners: Are we targeting the right goals? Physical Therapy in Sport54, 44–52.

About the author

Lauren was born and raised in Cape Town South Africa. In 2015 Lauren Graduated her Physiotherapy studies at the University of the Western Cape. She has gained experience in different clinical settings over the years including public clinics, private hospitals and practices. Lauren has great exposur ... more

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