As a general rule – if you feel pain on the outside of your knee – stop running immediately.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to run through the pain as this will only worsen the inflammation of the IT band – we know this from experience!
After a flare up the iliotibial band should be treated with the RICE procedure immediately (rest, ice, compression and elevation) to reduce pain and inflammation, followed by stretching (however you should avoid bouncing and stretching too hard so as not to aggravate the problem).
The use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen is recommended to bring down the swelling and aid healing.
We also recommend you see a registered sports physiotherapist or athletic therapist to confirm you actually have ITBS and to rule out other possible causes of the pain.
Check if your running shoes are worn down, particularly in the outside of the heels and visit a specialist running store to invest in some quality footwear. They will analyse your form and recommend the appropriate footwear if any correction is required.
If there is too much inward (medial) roll causing overpronation (when the feet roll inward too much) then custom foot orthotics can really help by controlling the amount of inversion of the foot and thus reducing rotation of the leg and knee (which causes friction of the iliotibial band against the outside of the knee).
See a podiatrist or your physical therapist to check if you need orthotics – some specialist running shops can analyse your gait and help you with this to some extent as well.
In our experience long term results and remission from ITBS can be achieved through a combination of addressing any issues with poor form (namely mid to long distance running style) and physical therapy, involving stretching and exercises to lengthen and strengthen the IT band. ITB Syndrome is ultimately caused by the IT band shortening and becoming tight (normally when running and building up mileage too fast) – coupled with poor running technique. If you address the two areas by stretching properly and improving your technique – then you WILL beat Iliotibial Band Syndrome.