There are several potential causes for ITB syndrome as well as several different ways to fix it. Your alignment on your bike and bike fit can be factors that contribute to developing ITB syndrome, especially if you are bowlegged or have flat feet. Talk with a bike fit specialist to ensure a proper fit and alignment to avoid these issues.
More commonly, ITB syndrome develops when some of your muscle groups are tight and others weak or fatigued. This happens especially in cyclists that sit most of the day. The ITB loses flexibility after being in the same position for extended periods of time, and while some muscle groups are toned by cycling, other muscles - especially in the hips - can actually weaken.
The first step is to work with a trained physical therapist who can develop a customized strengthening and flexibility program to help balance your muscle groups. Your therapist may also recommend an at-home massage regimen to improve blood flow, as well as tips for icing the area. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications also can be taken to reduce any pain you may be feeling.
Because the ITB is such a thick band of tissue, it takes patience and dedication to improve its flexibility and stretch it. If after several weeks or months of therapy the problem doesn't seem to improve, a Sports Medicine physician can administer a steroid injection to the area to decrease inflammation and pain. However, continued work on strength and flexibility is vital to keeping ITB syndrome at bay. The injection can reduce the pain in the short term, but if your strength, flexibility and mechanics are not improving, the pain will likely come back.
For some with chronic ITB syndrome, a surgical release procedure can be performed. This involves a surgeon making a small incision in the ITB near the hip to release the tension and essentially lengthen it. The surgeon will also debride the area of any bone spurs or deformations that could be causing further irritation.
If you're experiencing hip or knee pain and suspect the ITB, make an appointment with a Sports Medicine physician. Your doctor can refer you to a trained therapist, and be available should further treatment be needed.
If you're not experiencing pain but want to avoid it if at all possible, contact the professionals at our Sports Enhancement Program. They can do a physical assessment to determine if you have any weak spots that could eventually lead to a tight IT band, and develop a program to keep you pain free.