by Briana Croker, SPT

What is Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome, more commonly known as IT band syndrom,e is a common overuse knee injury. It occurs by friction of the IT band rubbing over the lower femur (thigh bone) resulting in pain on the outside of the thigh between the hip and knee. The IT band is thick band of connective tissue that runs from a muscle on the outside of the hip to the outside of the knee and lower leg. It is a common syndrome found in runners and cyclists.

Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome graphic


The most common area of symptoms for IT Band Syndrome is on the outside of the knee. The symptoms are often described as sharp pain on the outside of the knee when the heel strikes the ground. The symptoms can radiate into the outer thigh or calf. Running or going downstairs tends to increase the symptoms. An audible snapping sensation can be present on the outside of the knee accompanied by swelling.


Weakness of outer hip muscles increases the IT band tension over the outside of the knee during knee bending and straightening. Bending and straightening the knee moves the IT band behind and in front of the thigh bone. Repetitively bending and straightening the knee with a tight IT band produces excessive friction resulting in irritation of the IT band and the soft tissue in the area. When the outer hip muscles do not do their job, the IT band needs to pick up the slack and becomes irritated from being overworked.

Treatment for Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome

Treatment for IT Band Syndrome is conservative with Physical Therapy. It typically begins with activity modification and decreasing the inflammation/pain. Once pain is controlled, therapeutic exercise is incorporated. Therapeutic exercises consist of stretching the IT band, myofascial release, and strengthening of the outer hip muscles that stabilize the hip.

Contact Our Upstate NY Physical Therapy Clinics

Connect with our experienced staff to discuss how we can help relieve Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome pain in runners and athletes. Our PT offices are located in Latham, Malta and Queensbury NY. Call 518-289-5242 to make your appointment at any of our Upstate NY physical therapy clinics.