In the past year I’ve become very familiar with the many IT band straps on the market. Since first experiencing knee pain during the Traprock 50K in April 2010 I have tried four straps from different manufacturers with mixed success. No IT band strap on the market will cure ITBFS, nor will it allow you to run completely pain-free. At best, a properly placed and fitted strap can delay the onset of pain allowing you to run longer than you could have (or should) without one. That being said, here is my take on the four I’ve used from worse to best.
Fourth Place: The McDavid Knee Strap. I’ll admit I never gave this one a real chance. I just never liked it all that much. The strap width is too narrow and the neoprene support is not firm enough to apply enough pressure to the IT band. One the plus side it’s the least expensive at $10.
Third Place: Mueller ITB Strap. This is the first strap I tried. It’s the widest of the four and I thought it would provide the most support. It does apply a lot of pressure but most of it is felt on the hamstring and not the IT band. Perhaps my leg is not large enough because this strap is long enough to wrap around the leg of Quadzilla! The plastic loop makes it fast and easy to adjust the strap but it also digs into your leg. And you will need to adjust this one often. The neoprene stretches easily and also causes excessive perspiration which causes the strap to slide down your leg.
Second Place: Imak Knee Strap. I haven’t been wearing the Imak for that long but it still finished a close second. This strap incorporates a pressure pad filled with many small gel beads that provide focused pressure and maximum support. Another cool feature is a dual locking strap system that allows flexible tension and a perfect fit. Lined with soft cotton lycra this strap stays in place even after several hours.
And the winner is?
Pro-Tec Athletics IT Band Compression Wrap. This strap is two inches wide and has a large compression pad that provides targeted pressure stabilizing the Iliotibial tract. It’s not as easy to use as the Imak but once in place it tends to stay there. This product is well made and should last a long time. I rated the Pro-Tec first due to the fact I was able to run the 2010 Stone Cat Marathon totally pain-free wearing this strap.
I hope none of you ever have a need for an IT band strap but if you do, I hope this helps you choose the one that meets your needs.
Until next time, wishing you healthy, pain-free running.