Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome, commonly referred to as IT band syndrome, is a condition that causes pain and discomfort on the outside of the knee. The iliotibial band is a thick band of connective tissue that runs from the hip to the outside of the knee. When the band becomes inflamed or irritated, it can cause pain and discomfort in the knee joint. IT band syndrome is a common injury among runners and other athletes who engage in activities that involve repetitive knee bendings, such as cycling or hiking.

Causes of Iliotibial Band Syndrome

The exact cause of iliotibial band syndrome is not completely understood, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors including:

Overuse: Repeated bending and straightening of the knee during physical activities, such as running or cycling, can cause irritation and inflammation of the iliotibial band.

Poor biomechanics: Abnormal movement patterns, such as running with your feet turned outwards, can cause excessive rubbing of the iliotibial band against the outside of the knee joint.

Muscle imbalances: Weakness or tightness in the muscles surrounding the knee and hip can cause abnormal strain on the iliotibial band, leading to inflammation.

Training errors: Sudden increases in activity or changes in training surfaces can contribute to the development of IT band syndrome.

Anatomical factors: Individuals with abnormal lower limb anatomy, such as bowed legs or flat feet, may be more susceptible to IT band syndrome

Signs and Symptoms of Iliotibial Band Syndrome

The primary symptom of iliotibial band syndrome is pain on the outside of the knee. The pain is often described as a sharp, burning or stinging sensation that is felt when the knee is bent, particularly when the foot strikes the ground. Other signs and symptoms of IT band syndrome may include:

  • Pain that gets worse with activity, especially during running, cycling, or hiking.
  • Swelling or tenderness on the outside of the knee.
  • A clicking or popping sound in the knee when bending or straightening the leg.
  • Tightness or stiffness in the hip or thigh muscles.
  • Pain that worsens when walking down stairs or hills.

It is important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent pain, swelling, or other symptoms that interfere with your daily activities.

Treatment for Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Physiotherapy is often recommended as a first-line treatment for iliotibial band syndrome. The goals of physiotherapy are to reduce pain and inflammation, improve range of motion, and strengthen the muscles that support the knee and hip. Some of the common physiotherapy treatments for iliotibial band syndrome include:

Stretching: stretching the iliotibial band, quadriceps, hamstrings, and other muscles can help to relieve tightness and improve range of motion.

Strengthening exercises: specific exercises are designed to strengthen the hip and knee muscles to improve support and stability, including gluteus medius and maximus, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

Manual therapy: soft tissue mobilization techniques, such as massage, can help to reduce pain and inflammation, increase circulation, and improve flexibility.

Kinesio taping: kinesiology tape can be applied to the outside of the knee to provide support and reduce pain.

Modalities: cold therapy, heat therapy, and ultrasound may be used to reduce inflammation and pain.

The specific treatment plan will depend on the severity of the condition, the individual’s needs, and other factors. It is important to work with a qualified physiotherapist to develop an individualized treatment plan.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about iliotibial band syndrome please call us at 03 9836 1126.



Zakaria, A., Emara, K., & Gamal, O. (2020). Effectiveness of eccentric training in the management of iliotibial band syndrome: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of back and musculoskeletal rehabilitation,

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