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Treating IT Band Syndrome In Young Runners

By Brian Fullem, DPM
Fellow, American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine
Tampa, FL

Amol Saxena, DPM
Fellow, American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine
Fellow, American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons
Palo Alto, CA

Key Points:

• A three phase treatment plan of reducing inflammation, massage and stretching, followed by strengthening can reliably get the runner back successfully


Last week we wrote about IT Band Syndrome in runners, including potential causes of the problem. ITBS remains one of the main causes of knee pain in runners. Use this three-phase treatment plan to reduce inflammation and strengthen the area in question.


The initial phase focuses on reducing pain and inflammation and increasing mobilization of the ITB. Rest, ice, NSAIDs and topical anti-inflammatories are all effective in this initial phase. Occasionally, a corticosteroid injection can help–when used judiciously with the understanding that the injection is not curing the injury–to reduce the pain and enable one to move on to the next phase.


Treatment progresses by using deep-tissue massage, a necessary step before moving on to strengthening. We recommend frequent massage: every day for elites and two or three times per week for recreational runners. If you cannot afford the expense or time of going to a certified massage therapist, a foam roller can work well for self-massage, or a tool such as the ROLL Recovery R8 or the Stick. (Roll all the way from knee to hip.) Maintain fitness with cross training that does not aggravate the condition. (If it hurts, try something else.) After the pain subsides, add stretching while continuing deep tissue massage.


Begin strengthening as soon as the exercises below can be performed painlessly. If you have access to an AlterG treadmill, that may also allow continued running during the rehabilitation phase.

Check out this article from for descriptions of specific exercises and stretches to help you recover from IT Band Syndrome. In the article you’ll learn the key principles such as:

• The lengthening stretch- the single best stretch for the IT Band
• Clamshell resistance band strengthening
• Side lying leg lifts
• Single leg squats
• Hip hikes
• And a brief description of return to running principles

IT Band Syndrome can be annoying because it can take away from something you love- running. But it can be fixed. Follow the principles above and you’ll have a great chance of getting back on your feet.

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