IT Band Syndrome is related to biomechanical differences in running techniques (e.g. stride, gate, cadence, lean, leg rotation, foot strike, etc.). While studies looked to link these associations, the research has either found only some relations or remained mostly inconclusive. It remains to be seen if biomechanical differences are a cause of the syndrome at all, or if runners develop biomechanical differences resulting from IT Band issues. A major challenge is the lack of retaining a precise control group of study participants. For example, not all runners are the same. Age, sex, weight, height, body-type, fitness-level, injury history, pain tolerance, running frequency, running-style (competitiveness) are significant factors that affect the studies.
Although researches have not proven that biomechanical differences are a cause or result of IT Band issues, adjusting your biomechanics may be the key to overcoming it.
Experts agree that the peak strain and irritation – known as the “impingement point” – of the IT band occurs at about 30-degree knee flexion and is related to IT band compression against the knee epicondyle at 30-degree knee flexion.
Try the following:
- Shorten your stride (don’t overstride).
- Increase your cadence (more foot strikes per minute).
- Land with a foot strike that occurs directly below your hip and knee instead of out in front of you. This often means leaning more forward than you are used too. Your shoulders should be directly above the hip. Do not lean so far forward though that your upper body is hunched over.
- Most importantly, reduce the amount of flexion in your knees to avoid the 30-degree impingement point.
- Slow down until you have fully recovered from IT Band Syndrome.
These adjustments led to immediate and steady recovery from my chronic IT Band Syndrome!
Other runners with chronic IT Band Syndrome report similar improvements resulting from the stride modification described here, as well as my findings. Gary Howells Run coaching suggests “a higher cadence than might seem natural, and footfall that occurs directly below” the knee will help with the strain of the ITB.