Effects of iliotibial band syndrome on pain sensitivity and gait kinematics in female runners: A preliminary study

Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2020 Jun;76:105017. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2020.105017. Epub 2020 Apr 30.


Background: Runners with iliotibial band syndrome display symptoms similar to chronic tendinopathy and distinct gait patterns compared to healthy controls. Although altered pain processing has been demonstrated in chronic tendinopathies, central pain processing and its relationship to motor control has not been measured in iliotibial band syndrome. The purpose of this study was to examine pain sensitivity, hip strength, and gait kinematics in runners with and without iliotibial band syndrome.

Methods: Nine female runners with iliotibial band syndrome and eight healthy controls participated. Subjective pain was reported and pressure pain threshold measured at the bilateral foot, tibialis anterior, contralateral hand. Isometric hip strength was assessed. Three-dimensional joint angles were collected while running. Differences in pain and strength were determined using 1-way ANOVAs. Discrete hip and knee joint angles during stance phase were calculated and waveform analysis performed.

Findings: Runners with iliotibial band syndrome exhibited bilaterally diminished pain at the foot (injured-limb: 1.54 (SD = 0.51); non-injured limb: 1.54 (SD = 0.55); control: 4.01 (SD = 2.30) kg, P < .001) and ipsilateral tibialis anterior (injured-limb: 2.33 (SD = 1.10); control: 6.13 (SD = 4.89) kg, P = .03). Hip strength was not different between groups. Runners with iliotibial band syndrome had greater hip adduction at touchdown, knee internal rotation during loading, and knee abduction and flexion at toe-off than controls.

Interpretation: Runners with iliotibial band syndrome demonstrated expanded somatic pain sensitivity without hip strength differences, but concomitant with altered gait patterns. Bilateral pain symptoms and gait deviations exist in runners with iliotibial band syndrome even with unilateral symptoms, highlighting the importance of bilateral assessment.

Keywords: Central sensitization; Knee; Quantitative sensory testing; Tendinopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome / psychology*
  • Pain Threshold*
  • Rotation
  • Running / physiology*
  • Running / psychology*
  • Young Adult