ITB. For many runners this acronym may stand for ‘Imminent Trouble Brewing’, and then may progress to ‘Intense Thigh Burning’ and then eventually ‘I’m Taking a Break!’. If you have heard of the ITB it is probably because it been a source of pain and angst and impeded your ability to run. Hespanhol et al (2011) found that ITB pain syndrome is the third most common injury experienced by distance runners. It often starts out as a subtle warm glow around the lateral aspect of the knee, and then progresses to a debilitating, intense pain that can stop you running for weeks on end.

A systematic review by Louw and Deary (2013) that collated studies on the biomechanics of distance runners with ITB pain syndrome found that there are some trends seen in those who have a history of ITBPS compared to healthy controls, particularly around the hips and knees. This is easily assessed in an RunStrong Assessment through slow-motion gait analysis, and can also be addressed through deliberately altering running technique.

In regards to muscle strength, there have been conflicting findings in the research- which is often directed at muscle strength around the hips. This is not a great surprise to me, as the development of chronic injury and pain is rarely uniform across a large population. Some people may develop ITB pain at least in part because their hips muscles (glute medius in particular) are weak. Others have very strong glute medius muscles in the context in which they are tested, but they do not activate these muscles correctly when they are actually running. Often in research there is a chasm that exists between the functional task the person is experiencing pain in, and how the relevant muscles are tested. So research results must be taken with a pinch of salt. And also, for you the individual, it is not important what average person with ITB pain may display on an assessment- the only thing of relevance is the results of your individual assessment, as that is what guides the individualised corrective exercise program.

It is super simple to assess glute medius (and other) muscle strength and function, and then take the next step to start correcting exactly what needs to be corrected. If you, or someone you know has been putting up with ITB pain and has yet to experience relief, I’d recommend booking in a RunStrong Assessment. Email me at [email protected] or call on 08 8431 2111 if you’d like more information.

Hespanhol, L. C., Carvalho, A. C. A., Costa, L. O. P., & Lopes, A. D. (2011). The prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries in runners: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45(4),

Louw, M., & Deary, C. (2013). The biomechanical variables involved in the aetiology of iliotibial band syndrome in distance runners-A systematic review of the literature. Physical Therapy in Sport, 30, 1e12.