Are you one of the 15% of cyclists that suffer pain in the lateral knee and thigh area? This is a common overuse injury prominent in cyclists and often referred to as illiotibial band syndrome (ITBS). ITBS involves pain in lateral femoral condoyle (outer knee) as well as possible hip pain. The pain normally occurs after repetitive knee flexion movements typical of cyclists and runners.
As to the actual biomechanical causes of ITBS, there is still no consensus on this. Studies have been conducted but the etiology of the condition is still in question. Some of the factors thought to at least contribute to ITBS include a change in the angle of knee flexion during activity (which may be brought about by fatigue over time), over pronation and low hamstring strength.
So, you’re a cyclist clocking up the miles and find yourself experiencing the above symptoms, what should you do? It’s always good to get a physical examination to confirm the condition but there are also some methods you can incorporate into your own recovery regime to help in the possible prevention of ITBS (Cyclists Knee Pain) or leaving it to develop into a chronic condition.
- RICE: As ITBS is an overuse injury which causes inflammation rest, ice, compression and elevation following exercise is a first line treatment.
- Stretching!! Incorporate stretches of the iliotibial band, glutes, lower back, hamstrings and quadriceps into your recovery sessions.
- Strength training: strengthening the hip abductor muscle is often recommended.
- Soft tissue therapy: regular massage and myofascial dry needling can be of benefit.
References: Lavine R1 Iliotibial band friction syndrome. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2010 Jul 20;3(1-4):18-22.
 Holmes JC, Pruitt AL, Whalen NJ. Iliotibial band syndrome in cyclists. Am J Sports Med. 1993;21 (3):419-424
 Miller R, Lowry j, Meardon S, Gillette J. Lower extremity mechanice of iliotibial band syndrome during an exhaustive run. Gait Posture, 2007;26:407-413. Doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2006.10.007