Susceptibility to IT Band Syndrome is likely 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. Click here to see research related to IT band compression against the knee epicondyle at 30-degree knee flexion.
Try the following:
- Shorten your stride (don't over stride).
- 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. Your shoulders should be directly above the hip. Do not lean so far forward though that you 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. A testimony by a fellow runner happily describes, “a higher cadence than might seem natural, and footfall that occurs directly below” his knees, helped resolve the pesky syndrome. Click here to view his story.
Douglas Wisoff, physical therapist and running coach, demonstrates how adjusting your running stride may help eliminate IT Band Syndrome.
Will Wragg, running specialist from Running Injury Free Revolution (RIF REV), shows how adjusting his stride eliminated his IT Band Syndrome.
Will Wragg, running specialist from Running Injury Free Revolution (RIF REV), shows how excessive knee and hip flexion may contribute to injuries like IT Band Syndrome.
A common indicator of poor running form - that can lead to injuries like IT Band Syndrome - is observed when the runner's head can be seen bouncing. That bouncing of the entire body is wasted energy and creates excessive strain on areas of the body - especially the knees. Proper and efficient running form results in very little bouncing and a faster more efficient runner. Ensuring that the shoulders are directly above the hips and the hips are directly above foot at foot strike solves this issue.
In his book, Run Tall Run Easy: The Ultimate Guide to Better Running Mechanics, Gerald "GP" Pearlberg calls this "running tall" and describes this optimal efficiency like a balanced broomstick - shoulders over the hips and hips over the lower body.