Iliotibial (I.T.) Band Syndrome in Runners

IT Band Now that the weather is getting pleasant in Arizona, people are getting outside and exercising and maybe even training for some 5k runs, 10k runs or even a full marathon.  It is at this time that runners may start to notice some pain on the outside of the knee.  More than likely this is called Iliotibial (I.T.) band syndrome, which is the most common cause of lateral knee pain in runners.[1]

The I.T. Band is a thick band of tissue that starts as a muscle on the outer part of the hip and connects to your knee.  It is also interconnected through series of tissue called fascia from your outer neck muscles to the outer part of your foot. IT Band2

Causes of this type of knee pain include: running on uneven or slanted surfaces or the same direction around a track, increasing training mileage by more than 30% every 2 weeks[1], muscle tightness and weak hip abductors[2] (outer gluteal muscles).

Symptoms include pain, stiffness, tenderness to touch and swelling along the outer knee during running, going up or down stairs and after being seated or still for a long period of time.

At Continuum Wellness Physical Therapy, we recommend that patients rest and try to reduce acute inflammation with massage, ice and anti-inflammatories and follow up with one of our physical therapists.

In our experience, runners with IT Band syndrome typically have some kind of biomechanical dysfunction, flexibility issue, weakness or all three that need to be addressed in PT.  We perform an in depth functional evaluation to identify tightness, weakness and other dysfunction.

We then use hands on treatments to break up scar tissue, improve flexibility of muscles, tendons and fascia and help jumpstart the healing process.  Then prescribe specific stretching and strengthening exercises to be performed in the clinic and at home.  We safely and quickly progress you back to running pain free and make sure that you are only increasing your mileage by 10% every two weeks.


Call now to schedule your free, no obligation screening! 

Chandler: 480-207-1077

Gilbert: 480-503-2010

Apache Junction: 480-983-0877


Here are some basic hip strengthening exercises to help increase strength in your hip abductor muscles to help reduce risk of getting I.T. Band syndrome.

IT Band3



Clamshell with band

30 repetitions, once daily





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Hip Abduction

30 repetitions, once daily




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Resisted lateral walking

10 steps to left, 10 steps back



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to right, 3 times each

Once daily





[1] INSIGHTS, N. (2014). How to Safely Increase Your Mileage. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 44(10), 748.

[2] Fredericson, M., Cookingham, C. L., Chaudhari, A. M., Dowdell, B. C., Oestreicher, N., & Sahrmann, S. A. (2000). Hip abductor weakness in distance runners with iliotibial band syndrome. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 10(3), 169-175.

[1] Fredericson, M., & Wolf, C. (2005). Iliotibial band syndrome in runners. Sports Medicine, 35(5), 451-459.

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