Categories: Health & Fitness

Iliotibial band syndrome: cause, duration, exercises

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Iliotibial band syndrome, also called windshield wiper syndrome is defined as external knee pain. It usually appears during a sports activity: often running or cycling.

What is iliotibial band syndrome?

The name of this syndrome refers to the structure in question, the ilio-tibial band or Maissiat band, which attaches the hip muscle to the knee joint“, explains Marc Rozenblat, sports doctor, traumatologist and President of the National Union of Sports Doctors Health. “Just before reaching the shin, the strip passes over the thigh bone. There it can ‘rub’ and become irritated when playing certain sports or activities.“, he continues. It is generally felt at a some degree of knee flexion (about 30 degrees).

What are its causes ?

“There are different reasons“, lists the specialist. Or it is the intensity of the exercise and the overuse of the knee which lead to this irritation and cause this syndrome. Or is it a bad posture due to poor hardware. Or it is the mechanics of the knee (cartilage, articular blockage) which causes this syndrome. Finally, it can also be due to a lack of flexibility of the lower limb.

What is the link with cycling?

This syndrome occurs mainly runners or cyclists (since the exercise requires bending and unbending your knees several times).

What are the symptoms ?

The main symptom of iliotibial band syndrome is feel sharp pain on the lateral side of the knee. Initially, the pain tends to be felt simply during training. It can be so strong that it prevents the sportsman from practicing his activity and disappears outside (a bit like a cramp). If the athlete does not take care of it, on the other hand, the consequences can be much more serious and the pain can become almost permanent.

How long does it last?

It all depends on the date of the diagnosis, the intensity of the pain and the treatment, but the professional suggests stop all sporting activity for at least 6 weeksi.e. the incompressible time to recover from it.

What are the treatments for iliotibial band syndrome?

“The treatment depends essentially on the cause”, says Marc Rozenblat. If iliotibial band syndrome is due to exercise intensity and overuse of the knee, then it will mainly require rest. We can also prescribe local care, cryotherapy or physiotherapy. If the syndrome is due to the mechanics of the knee, it may be necessary to see a doctor and then a podiatrist for special insoles so that the strip no longer rubs.

What exercises to relieve it?

To relieve pain, the sports doctor and traumatologist recommends GOOD stretch the area, to make deep transverse massages and especially of rest the knee well and avoid straining it until he recovers. In the meantime, bet on swimming “less constraining“or even better, “play chess“, he jokes.

Thank you to Dr Marc Rozenblat, sports trauma doctor and President of the National Union of Sports Doctors.

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