Exercises and stretches for iliotibial band syndrome

Knee pain can have various causes, however, one of the most common is related to the iliotibial band syndrome. But what is this structure actually? It is an elongated fabric that extends from the hip to the knee. Likewise, its function is to stabilize, that is, to give balance to the two aforementioned areas.

It is common for iliotibial band syndrome to raise broad doubts, as pain is confused with other physical disturbances. In that sense, it is time to break down what it is, what its symptoms are, the causes, the recommended treatments and the favorite exercises.

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial band syndrome is a disproportionate tension, irritation, and swelling over the connective tissue area in the knee. It occurs as a result of repetitive knee bends over a long period of time. This discomfort can spread to other areas of the belt.

Main symptoms

Among the main symptoms and signs of iliotibial band syndrome is the pain in the knee and hip, with the particularity that the discomfort points to the outer area. In turn, when exercising, the intensity increases considerably.

On the other hand, any angle of flexion of the knee leads to a discomfort that increases as the days go by. Even keeping the leg immobile after the flexion does not mitigate the discomfort.

Finally, sitting with the classic drop of the legs for long periods of time becomes a common trigger.

Iliotibial band syndrome is more common among some athletes in certain sports disciplines.

What can cause it?

The cause of iliotibial band syndrome is that said tissue is in a very high state of tension, producing friction by rubbing against the bone during each movement of the knee. And while there are multiple factors that trigger the problem, among the main ones are the following:

  • Have a flatfoot.
  • Remaining tension or load on the iliotibial band.
  • Bowed legs or genu varum.
  • Practice activities that require knee flexion Many times a day.
  • Do running workouts on inclined surfaces.
  • Present weakness in the knee flexors.
  • Use the bicycle constantly.
  • Have an imbalance in the size of the legs.
  • Show sensitivity in the abductor muscles.
  • Suffering from diseases related to inflammation of the joints.

Read also: 5 exercises to strengthen your knees without leaving home

Risk group for iliotibial band syndrome

The risk group that is usually most frequently affected by iliotibial band syndrome is made up of athletes who stress and load their knees with every workout. This is the case of footballers, cyclists, tennis players, basketball players, weightlifters and athletes who follow this line of physical wear.

In turn, there is another group that is affected by the iliotibial band syndrome and is not related to high-performance athletes. These are overweight people who do not usually put extra loads on their knees. Thus, the set-up after the recommendation of the doctors to improve their condition is often problematic.

What is your diagnosis?

In principle, when you have discomfort in the knees that are reflected in the hips, you should see a doctor. So that, the specialist will be in charge of making a diagnosis of the severity based on physical tests, recent medical history, patient balance, ability to move in preferred directions, and MRI.

After having the response of the doctor based on all the tests performed, then the scenario is adequate to solve the injury. For this there are also alternatives, according to severity.

Recommended Treatments for Iliotibial Band Syndrome

The recommended treatments vary according to each case and the limitations that the patient may have to opt for the exercises. Of course, the final decision will be an agreement between the doctor and the person.

Front flex stretch

The stretch begins with your feet a safe distance apart, parallel, and keeping your back straight. The sequence should follow as follows:

  1. Put your right foot over your left.
  2. Subtly bend your knees to lean your body forward and place your hands on the ground.
  3. Preserve the inclined position for a time between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
  4. Repeat the movement doing the opposite foot crossing.
  5. Apply 3 repetitions in each position.

Leg opening stretch

The leg opening conditioning is done by placing the feet in a position greater than the imaginary line described by the shoulders. From there the following is recommended:

  • Lean your body towards the front and rest both hands on the floor. A slight bending of the knees is allowed.
  • With the help of the hips, touch the outer edge of the right foot. Repeat the stretch toward the outer edge of your left foot.
  • Hold tension for 10-15 seconds in each position (central, extreme of the right foot and extreme of the left foot).
  • Do 3 reps for the stretch to take effect.

Heel drops exercise

The heel drops exercise requires a step, wall or any object that can serve to keep a foot in suspension during a downward movement. Its execution takes place in the following way:

  • Standing on the step extend one foot forward and carefully bend the knee support.
  • Slowly return to the base position of the exercise.
  • Repeat the movement by changing legs.
  • 3 sets of 15 reps are recommended to start. When the iliotibial band is in perfect condition, an increase in repetitions up to 20 is allowed.

Lateral abduction exercise

Lateral abduction is done lying on the side, so a sports mat is needed comfortable before starting. Then the procedure consists of this step by step:

  1. Turn your body to the side, bend the leg that is in contact with the ground, and use one arm to support your head.
  2. Fully stretch your upper leg and lift it a few inches.
  3. Move your foot up and down.
  4. Continue raising your upper leg until it describes an angle of about 45 degrees.
  5. Return to the starting position, always avoiding supporting the leg that is being worked.
  6. Perform 3 variable sets between 8 and 10 repetitions.

It may interest you: 5 sports for people with knee pain

Medical Approach to Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Medical treatment is differentiated and requires prior consultation with a clinician. In that order of ideas, the most used methods to treat iliotibial band syndrome are the following:

  • Cortisone injections.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Surgery.

Iliotibial band syndrome prevention

Prevention of iliotibial band syndrome begins with performing a stretch before each exercise routine. Exaggerated efforts should not be made and it is prudent to apply cooling movements at the end of the sessions.

On the other hand, rest is very important so tension can be reduced before training again. Consequently, keeping strict control of your hours of rest can reduce the risk of injury.

Finally, go to a specialist as the first option when feeling any kind of discomfort in the knees. In addition, it prioritizes less invasive treatments so that recovery occurs in a shorter period.