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J Athl Train. 2000 Jan-Mar; 35(1): 96–99.
PMCID: PMC1323447

Corrective Neuromuscular Approach to the Treatment of Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome: A Case Report

Robert Pettitt, MS, ATC and Angela Dolski, ATC



To describe the evaluation and treatment process for inappropriate functional patterns of neuromuscular activity within the scope of an iliotibial band friction syndrome protocol.


Runners with iliotibial band friction syndrome are frequently fitted with orthotic devices to restrict excessive midfoot or rearfoot, or both, motions during the stance phase. These devices may fail to yield favorable results when underlying neuromuscular factors are associated with functional iliotibial band tightening.

Differential Diagnosis:

Distal biceps femoris tendinitis, popliteal tendinitis, lateral meniscus lesion.


The athlete's physical examination revealed several patterns of inappropriate neuromuscular activity attributed partly to the prolonged daily wear of beach-type sandals. Modifications of casual footwear and a temporary reduction in training volume were recommended initially to prevent exacerbation of the athlete's condition. Stretching, massage, and soft tissue mobilization were administered in accordance with the athlete's specific needs. The protocol included progressions of nonweightbearing and weightbearing therapeutic exercises. Neuromuscular electric stimulation was incorporated into the protocol to re-educate the role of the first ray within the stance phase of the athlete's walking gait.


Upon stationary examination, this athlete presented with normal lumbar and lower extremity postures. Gait analysis, however, revealed inappropriate dorsiflexion of the great toe during ambulation. Further, the athlete's performances on a series of tests to assess neuromuscular function were substandard. This athlete's response to previous treatment and unique physical findings required a corrective neuromuscular approach that deviates from iliotibial band friction syndrome protocols advocating the use of orthotics.


While the role of any single treatment in the athlete's recovery remains unknown, it seems that a corrective neuromuscular approach in the management of iliotibial band friction syndrome represents a viable alternative to orthotic intervention.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Renne JW. The iliotibial band friction syndrome. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1975 Dec;57(8):1110–1111. [PubMed]
  • Noble CA. Iliotibial band friction syndrome in runners. Am J Sports Med. 1980 Jul-Aug;8(4):232–234. [PubMed]
  • Orchard JW, Fricker PA, Abud AT, Mason BR. Biomechanics of iliotibial band friction syndrome in runners. Am J Sports Med. 1996 May-Jun;24(3):375–379. [PubMed]
  • Montgomery WH, 3rd, Pink M, Perry J. Electromyographic analysis of hip and knee musculature during running. Am J Sports Med. 1994 Mar-Apr;22(2):272–278. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association