Does knee pain currently have you down and out? All too often we hear of runners and cyclists with the dreaded lateral knee pain, or IT band pain. What is the ITB or IT band? Is this what I’m feeling? Most importantly, what should I do to fix it?
The ITB or Iliotibial band is a taught fascial band that runs from the outside of the hip and connects to the outer portion of the knee (from the ilium to the tibia - hence iliotibial). The band is a small part of your body’s lateral stability tract. In a normal, healthy situation, the band just rides along with you.
Just under your front pocket, high on the hip is a small muscle called your Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL for short). The TFL muscle, along with your glutes, tensions the IT band helping to stabilize the pelvis and create movement of the lower extremity. This small secondary muscle helps with small movements (hip flexion and hip abduction) in a healthy situation.
In someone who has lateral knee pain or hip pain, the TFL has become overactive as a compensation for another hip muscle not pulling its weight. The muscle that sits underneath the ITB, the lateral quad, also typically becomes overactive and painful. Frequently, the pain is brought on by exercise and relieved by rest. Naturally, we take off a few days or even weeks to calm it down, but the pain once again returns when we resume our training. As the condition worsens, the pain sets in more quickly during activity, and we are left frustrated.
A compensation is a short-term fix, but is also a learned pattern. Compensations may develop as the result of improper training form, overtraining, or your work-place ergonomics and daily posture. Rest simply decreases inflammation, but pain returns with activity because you have not addressed the cause – your body’s go-to bad habits. Ultimately, this dysfunction leads to pain.
Let’s Fix It
At Boulder Sports Chiropractic, we have successfully treated several cases of ITB pain. Initially treatment involves decreasing compensatory muscle tension using methods such as: Active Release Technique (ART), Trigger Point Dry Needling, and Graston Technique. Secondly, we create a specific rehab plan for you to address your muscle compensations, and create new functional movement patterns. Again, taking time off from your activities to ‘heal’ is not sufficient enough. Specific targeted exercises are the keys to getting you out of pain and preventing future flare ups. If you are suffering from knee or hip pain, call us today to schedule an appointment to get evaluated.