The aim of Iliotibial Band Syndrome treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation and includes cold therapy, rest, taping, bracing, and massage.
The following treatment methods form part of our full rehabilitation program created by elite sports physiotherapist Paul Tanner.
Who is this Iliotibial Band Syndrome treatment program suitable for?
This program is suitable for anyone suffering from Iliotibial band friction syndrome. If you are not sure what your injury is then we strongly recommend seeking professional advice to get an accurate diagnosis before beginning any rehabilitation.
The Iliotibial Band Syndrome treatment program consists of three phases and one maintenance phase. In order to progress to the next phase, you must reach specific exit criteria. So whatever type of injury you have, you begin at phase 1 and work through each phase.
The program is criteria based so you start at the beginning of phase 1 and only progress on to the next phase if you reach the specific exit criteria for that phase.
We recommend seeking professional advice if you are unsure before attempting any rehabilitation exercises.
Paul is head of Medical Services at Millwall Football Club, dealing with all aspects of match and training day sports physiotherapy and medical cover.
Introduction to Iliotibial Band Syndrome treatment
Iliotibial Band Syndrome treatment phase 1
The aim of phase 1 is to reduce pain and inflammation. We also begin to correct some of the muscle imbalances associated with ITB syndrome.
It is also a good idea to consider the following:
- Overpronation or poor foot biomechanics may increase the risk of injury
- Leg length difference
- Training errors e.g. overtraining, running on hills, or on cambered roads
Check the Exit Criteria to see when it is safe to move to phase 2.
The amount of time you should rest depends on how painful your knee is. For milder injuries, simply reducing your training volume may be sufficient.
If the pain is 7/10, then complete rest for 2-4 weeks. Pain 4-7/10 reduce distance/duration by 50%. Pain 3/10 reduces distance/duration by 30%.
If reducing your training volume is not helping, then reduce it further, or have a period of complete rest.
Note: Be aware, that simply resting alone will not be enough to cure your injury. If you do not address the causes, then your pain will return when you return to training.
Apply a cold therapy and compression wrap for 10 minutes every 2 hours, or at least 3 times/day. The aim is to reduce pain and inflammation and should take no longer than 24 to 48 hours.
Foam roll lateral quads/glutes/hamstrings. Calf 3 x 15s each
Taping & bracing
Wear an Iliotibial band strap, especially if you are on your feet a lot and struggle to rest it completely.
An ITB strap or taping works by compressing just above the knee, therefore altering the direction of forces through the tendon.
Exercise – Monster Walks (Ice skaters)
These work the hip muscles under load in a slightly different way but moving forwards. Place a resistance band around your knees to increase the load on your lateral hip muscles.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome treatment phase 2
Phase 2 comprises 12 tasks/exercises including:
- Treatment methods
- 4 stretching exercises
- 4 strengthening exercises
- Running progressions
The aim of phase 2 is to continue to protect the area and improve the condition of the muscles, whilst gradually increasing running volume.
Check the Exit Criteria for this phase to see when it is safe to move to phase 3.
In order to progress to phase 3:
- Your knee must be pain-free to touch
- No morning stiffness
- Hop pain-free
- Running with no pain
- No pain 24hrs after a run
Iliotibial Band Syndrome treatment phase 3
The aim of phase 3 is to increase running to normal training distances and introduce some endurance and capacity into the associated muscle groups.
Check the Exit Criteria to see when it is safe to move to the ‘Maintenance’ phase.
To complete this program you must:
- Continue until fully fit
- Pain-free through exercises
- No morning stiffness
- Running with no pain
- Post-run (24hrs) no pain
- No pain on touch
- Completed when 4 weeks of normal training have been done pain-free
Iliotibial Band Syndrome treatment maintenance phase
This is the maintenance phase and comprises 3 simple exercises to Include in your normal training routine.
Feel free to include any others you like from previous phases to help avoid your pain returning.
You can continue this phase as long as you wish.
However, when you are back to normal training with no pain before, during, or after runs, mark complete.