what is itbs

How Bad Is ITBS On Your Body? How Can You Treat it?

Feeling a bit sore, or in a lot of pain along the sides of your legs? If yes, then you probably have something known as “iliotibial band syndrome.” ITBS for short, it is a common injury that affects many runners out there.

That said, just what is ITBS? In this article, we will explain to you just what it is, how it comes about, and also ways to treat it. As it can definitely be a hindrance to your running career, ITBs can be prevented if you take measures beforehand.

That being said, let us begin!


What is ITBS?

As previously mentioned, ITBS is short for “iliotibial band syndrome”. As the name implies, this injury involves the iliotibial band (IT), which is a ligament that stretches from the outside of the thigh area all the way down to the shin. Its function is to move and stabilize the knee, and therefore is important in running.

However, ITBS is when the IT band becomes inflamed or tense. As a result, it creates a painful sensation when running, which then potential leads to improper form and also can affect the knee, thereby leading to more injuries.

How does it happen?

ITBS occurs in sports which involve the feet and legs turning inward, such as in running. When the legs turn inward, it creates pressure on the IT band and as a result it can become inflamed or tight.

In addition, runners can get ITBS by wearing worn-out shoes, running on uneven surfaces or downhill, and also simply overtraining, by logging in too many miles per week. Some to all of these factors can lead up to developing ITBS, which in the end can even create problems when walking and doing day-to-day activities.

Who is likely to get ITBS?

Generally speaking, ITBS does not discriminate in terms of who gets it: from beginning runners to professional athletes, anyone who is involved in running intense, long distances are susceptible to developing ITBS, if not careful.

For instance, beginning runners can get ITBS by starting a workout regimen that does not ease them into the sport. In other words, going from little to no experience in running to five miles every day not only makes you really sore, but it also sets you up with more likely developing ITBS and other injuries.

On the other hand, professional athletes also can get ITBS by training too much and without much recovery in between. Even if they are conditioned to withstand more miles and intensity than beginning runners, they are still likely to get injured if they do not end up taking good care of themselves.

How can you treat it?

Like with any other injuries, ITBS requires the standard rest-ice-time treatment. For more specificities, here are some ways you can go about healing and relieving IT band pain:

  • Get a lot of rest. No matter how much you find passion in running, taking time off from it in order to heal will be the best for you in the long run. Trust us: your body will thank you for having taken those extra few weeks off instead of continuing to run and getting chronically injured for the next few months.

    However, resting does not necessarily meaning sitting for long periods of time and not moving. You are still allowed to go about your day-to-day activities, e.g. running errands, driving, walking, etc. As long as you are not doing strenuous workouts like you normally do, you should be on the road to recovery.
  • Ice the area. Especially if the IT band is inflamed, then cooling it down with some ice can definitely take some of that edge off.

    However, it is important not to ice it for too long, or it can potentially damage nerves; that said, 20 to 30 minutes per edge is the best way to go. Also keep your leg compressed and elevated with the “RICE” method for the best effects.

  • Consider cross-training. Even though you are taking time off from running, that does not mean that you do not exercise at all. In fact, you might want to consider cross-training as a way to keep your body fit even while not running.

    For instance, you might want to try low-impact sports like swimming or cycling, for they still work out the same muscles as in running (and then some), but without all of impact associated with the sport.

    In addition, perhaps you can work on strength training, from workouts like lifting weights to kick-boxing. Building muscle is one way to protect your tendons and ligaments from getting easily injured, while also improving stability and form. It is worth a shot!
  • Stretch it out. Besides doing strengthening activities in cross-training, stretching out the IT band also helps it to remain flexible and less tight for a speedier recovery. Consider stretches for the hip, as well as for the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and just about any area associated with the IT band.

    Find and perform exercises on the area, as well as consider investing in a foam roller to roll out any knots or tensions along the sides. At first, you might find it very painful, but as you get used to it and your IT band starts to loosen up, your body will feel better about it.


All in all, having ITBS is, literally and figuratively, a pain to deal with, but it is not permanent if you take measures to prevent it from happening. Consider these options:

  • Lessen up the workout load each week.
  • Supplement running with other cross-training activities.
  • Invest in a new pair of running shoes when the old pair is worn out.

That said, we hope you find this article useful! Consider commenting and sharing with others. Happy running!

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