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How to Prevent Iliotibial Band Syndrome When Running

Spring Running Prehab: Roll Your IT Band

Longer days plus warmer weather equals longer runs, especially if you're training for an endurance race. While you can often feel that your muscles have taken a beating, the IT band, the fascia that lines the outside of your quad, takes a beating too. Often you don't feel how tight the IT band is until it interferes with your knee joint function and you end up with the Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Here are some classic signs.

  • Pain on the outside of knee that increases when running, especially running downhill, and the pain disappears soon after you stop running.
  • Tenderness when you touch the outside of the knee, with signs of inflammation.
  • As the syndrome progresses there may be a sharp stinging pain, or burning on the outside of the knee.

The best way to deal with ITB syndrome is to prevent it before it starts. I find that releasing the ITB with a foam roller is the best and most direct approach. It can be a little uncomfortable (that is an understatement) at first, but if the fascia is super painful you really need to roll it. The video below will teach you how.

Folks with excessive pronation are prone to ITB syndrome, so if you pronate and run, look into getting a pair of orthotics (podiatrist made insoles) or motion control sneakers designed to lessen pronation.

When I talk to folks that have been running for years, they tend to give me unsolicited advice and a lot of them tell me to take care of my knees. So roll those ITBs out, even if you don't have knee pain since a little prehab goes a long way.

Join The Conversation
christ013r christ013r 3 years
For the first time I read that foam roller can help prevent iliotibial band syndrome. Thank you for the information. Also, at runnersworld I came across helpful tips for runners on how to prevent iliotibial band syndrome.
Swedeybebe Swedeybebe 8 years
the biggest understatement of the world! but it works the best. no pain, no gain i guess :)
syako syako 8 years
It's a stretching exercise, not a strengthening one. :)
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
THANK YOU SO MUCH! I had physio for this very condition a few months ago and he told me to make sure I stretch my quads and hamstrings equally. I shall now do this!
dd-sugar dd-sugar 8 years
Foam rollers are the best! You can use them for balance work too. I have 6, including (2) foot long, whole and half rollers I keep by the bed. Just heaven for your back too. They're supposed to hurt but stick with it and it becomes routine. Really easy to "roll" a bit everyday while you're watching TV. Although more expensive, the firm, dense ones hold up better.
Spincyle10 Spincyle10 8 years
I thought the IT band connected at the hip or behind the glutes. The video looks like leg work - but the images look like arms and shoulders. What's that about?
Carrie14884290 Carrie14884290 8 years
I *under* pronate and my IT band still gets irritated easily. I'll have to keep an eye out for one of those foam rollers!
michlny michlny 8 years
I've been using the foam roller the last few weeks on my IT band and thighs and back. The pain is INTENSE but it does get better with time.
chibarosa chibarosa 8 years
I recently started using the foam roller on my ITB and calf muscles. My GOSH I wish I had started doing this a long time ago! I had no idea that the aches & pains that I was experiencing were related to the ITB and that they could be relieved so easily. I even sleep much better at night now.
laellavita laellavita 8 years
I haaaaate rolling. My trainer keeps telling me to do it before all my runs, but the only time I ever end up doing so is when he's actually making me as part of our sessions, whoops.
syako syako 8 years
Oh mine gets so tight! I need to buy a foam roller so I can do this at home. When I try to do wide legged stretches, I can really feel how tight it is. Thanks for the reminder.
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