Background: Iliotibial band syndrome is the leading cause of lateral knee pain in runners. Despite its high prevalence, little is known about the biomechanics that lead to this syndrome. The purpose of this study was to prospectively compare lower extremity kinematics and kinetics between a group of female runners who develop iliotibial band syndrome compared to healthy controls. It was hypothesized that runners who develop iliotibial band syndrome will exhibit greater peak hip adduction, knee internal rotation, rearfoot eversion and no difference in knee flexion at heel strike. Additionally, the iliotibial band syndrome group were expected to have greater hip abduction, knee external rotation, and rearfoot inversion moments.
Methods: A group of healthy female recreational runners underwent an instrumented gait analysis and were then followed for two years. Eighteen runners developed iliotibial band syndrome. Their initial running mechanics were compared to a group of age and mileage matched controls with no history of knee or hip pain. Comparisons of peak hip, knee, rearfoot angles and moments were made during the stance phase of running. Variables of interest were averaged over the five running trials, and then averaged across groups.
Findings: The iliotibial band syndrome group exhibited significantly greater hip adduction and knee internal rotation. However, rearfoot eversion and knee flexion were similar between groups. There were no differences in moments between groups.
Interpretation: The development of iliotibial band syndrome appears to be related to increased peak hip adduction and knee internal rotation. These combined motions may increase iliotibial band strain causing it to compress against the lateral femoral condyle. These data suggest that treatment interventions should focus on controlling these secondary plane movements through strengthening, stretching and neuromuscular re-education.