Iliotibial band syndrome, also known as IT band syndrome, is a painful knee injury that hockey players can suffer after spending too much time on the ice. Here are three things hockey players need to know about IT band syndrome.
What is an IT band?
Your IT band is a band of tissue that runs from your hip socket to the base of your knee joint. The IT band helps you rotate or abduct your hip; in addition, it helps to keep your knee joint stable. This tissue is incredibly important and is used every time you walk or run—and of course, every time you skate! When the IT band becomes swollen, the result is IT band syndrome and pain around the knee.
How does it occur?
IT band syndrome can develop for a few reasons. It can occur if you don't warm up or stretch properly before you work out. This is a big problem for hockey players since the game requires short bursts of athletic activity, and the rest of the time, you're just sitting on the bench waiting for your turn on the ice. Since you need to immediately jump into the game, it's impossible to warm up or stretch, and this can lead to IT band injuries.
Increasing your athletic activity too quickly can also cause IT band syndrome. When a new season starts, your body isn't used to the demands of competitive hockey anymore, and you can injure yourself. For this reason, it's best to keep up your workouts during the off season, even if you'd rather take a few months to relax.
Foot misalignment can also contribute to IT band syndrome. This may include conditions like valgus, which means that your foot turns outwards. Leg-length discrepancies can also be a factor; if one of your legs is a bit longer than the other, this misalignment will put strain on your IT band.
How is IT band syndrome treated?
If you develop IT band syndrome, you'll need to go to physiotherapy. You'll follow an individualized training plan to strengthen and stretch your body. Strengthening the muscles in your hips and core can help you control your legs more easily, and in most cases, will get rid of your symptoms.
If foot misalignment is a factor in your injury, you may need to get orthotics. Orthotics are shoe inserts that hold your foot in the proper position or even out the length of your legs. These inserts can be designed to fit inside your hockey skates.
If your knee hurts when you skate, you may have IT band syndrome and should see your doctor or a clinic like Meadowbrook Urgent Care for a sports physical.