Running and cycling for short distances is generally safe for people with iliotibial band syndrome. If pain persists, patients should try exercises that do not stress the iliotibial band, such as swimming, notes MedlinePlus.
The iliotibial band is the tendon running along the outside leg, connecting the top of the pelvis to the area just below the knee. Iiotibial band syndrome develops from the irritation caused by the iliotibial band rubbing against the bone outside the knee, triggering swelling of the tendon, the water-filled sacs between the bones called bursa, or both, says MedlinePlus.
Symptoms may include pain on the outside of the knee that goes away while exercising. Over time, the pain worsens and fails to go away with further exercise. Long periods of sitting with bent knees aggravates the iliotibial band, states MedlinePlus.
Long-distance running and cycling frequently cause iliotibial band syndrome, as repeatedly bending the knee can irritate and swell the iliotibial band, notes MedlinePlus. People with bowed legs or a tight iliotibial band are at higher risk for iliotibial band syndrome.
Standard treatment for iliotibial band syndrome involves resting the injury, taking pain relievers and applying ice compresses. In severe cases, iliotibial band syndrome sometimes warrants cortisone shots to reduce pain and inflammation. As a last option, doctors may recommend surgery to remove part of the iliotibial band, bursa or both, according to MedlinePlus.