it band syndrome

Have you ever suffered with IT Band Syndrome? Do you know what it is? 

What is the IT Band? 

it band syndrome

from: Visual Body App

The iliotibial band (or IT Band) is an extremely thick band of tissue that begins on the side of your hip where the gluteus maximus and tensor fascia latae (TFL) (no – that’s not the newest coffee drink) come together.

They join forces to create a giant band of fascial tendon that runs along the outside of the thigh, attaches a little bit to the outside of the knee cap and then finally to the tibia, just below and to the right of the knee cap. 

What is IT Band Syndrome? 

IT Band syndrome is one of the more common running injuries, often manifesting itself as lateral hip pain – sometimes assumed to be bursitis – or pain at the outside of the knee.

The symptoms typically get worse with repetitive motions, such as running or cycling.

What causes IT Band Syndrome? 

The possible causes of IT Band syndrome are plentiful – old shoes, the wrong shoes, canted road surfaces, leg length discrepancies, hip weakness, core weakness, muscular tightness, etc.

The most frequent cause I’ve seen is a muscular imbalance. Often some of the muscles in the hips are too tight and some critical muscles in the hips and core are too weak to handle all the stress that comes from the repeated landing and pushing off that happens consistently when running.

If your hip muscles aren’t strong enough to handle it, the force goes somewhere, and that’s when we get pain!

Now, I can’t exactly tell you how to fix all of the problems I talked about. Ideally you would see an orthopedic doctor, physical therapist, athletic trainer, etc. to be assessed properly. But, I still think I can help.

Here are a few quick and easy exercises to help alleviate some symptoms of ITB syndrome.

Piriformis Stretch

IT Band Syndrome

Lie on your back with both knees bent. Put your right ankle on top of your left knee. Using both hands, gently pull your right knee toward your left ear until you feel a gentle stretch in the right buttock.

Hold 30 seconds. Do 2 times.

(On all of these, I would go ahead and do both sides – might as well be even!).

Hamstring Stretch

IT Band Syndrome

Lie on your back with your left knee bent and your right leg straight. Using a strap (that isn’t stretchy), gently pull your straight right leg up until you feel a gentle stretch in your right hamstring (the back of your thigh).

Hold 30 seconds. Do 2 times.

IT Band Stretch

IT Band syndrome

Okay – so most technically researchers say that you can’t actually “stretch” the IT Band because it’s so strong, but we can stretch the glutes and the TFL.

Lie on your back in a similar position as to the hamstring stretch. Now gently pull your leg up using the strap until you feel a very minor hamstring stretch. Now gently let your right leg fall across the front of you until you feel a stretch in your hip.

Hold 30 seconds. Do 2 times.

Now that we’ve stretched out some, let’s get stronger.

Hip Abduction

IT Band Syndrome

This is a very basic building block exercise. Once this is stronger, you can move on to more functional strengthening exercises later. But, never neglect the basics.

Lie on your left side with your left knee bent and your right leg straight. You want your leg and your trunk in a straight line. Tighten the muscle on top of the thigh and pull your toes up toward your nose. Lift the right leg off the left ~6-10 inches and slowly return to the starting point.

Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.

Clam Shells

IT Band syndrome

Lie on your left side with both knees bent – like the fetal position. Keeping your feet together, slowly lift the right knee off the left. Lift only as high as you can before you feel the need to assist by rotating your hips or trunk. Slowly return to the starting position.

Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.

Hip Extensions

IT Band syndrome

Lie on your stomach with both knees straight. Tighten the muscles on the front your thigh in your right leg. Now, keeping the R knee straight, lift the entire right leg off the table. Be careful not to lift so high that the front of your pelvis comes off the table. Slowly return to the starting position.

Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps. 

Bridging

it band syndrome

Lie on your back with both knees bent. Slowly lift your hips off the bed/table until your body forms a flat surface. Slowly lower yourself back to your starting point.

Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps

There you have it. 

Of course, as with anything, there are always progressions once those get too easy, but those are a great place to start.

As always, make sure you see your medical professional before beginning any program to make sure something more serious isn’t going on. 

Then give them a whirl and see if your pain isn’t significantly better.

Let’s Get FIT Together.