IT Band Pain: How To Treat and Prevent

The IT Band (iliotibial band or ITB) is a band of muscle tissue that runs from the outside of your hip/pelvis down to the outside of your knee. It is not a very well-known muscle, so it can be easily neglected, especially by athletes. If it gets strained or injured, it usually causes pain on the outside or lateral part of the knee. This occurs most frequently among runners or athletes whose sport requires excessive running. You are at higher risk for IT band injury if you are new to running or if you are increasing your distances too quickly.

If you do any lower body flexibility exercise, which muscles do you stretch? Probably your hamstrings and calf muscles. Possibly your hip flexors, quads or various buttocks muscles. But have you ever stretched your IT band? It is not realistic to stretch every muscle group in the body daily, so first try to identify a few target areas. If you have IT band pain or have in the past, then be sure to include ITB stretching in your daily routine. The following stretch is one of the easiest ways to stretch your IT band regularly, as it requires no equipment and is done in standing.

The picture below demonstrates stretching of the right IT band. Hold the position for at least 20 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times. This should be done several times daily. You may need to stand next to a wall for arm support and to push into a deeper stretch (the wall would be on your right side for stretching your right ITB). If you are a runner or athlete, be sure to include this in your workout stretching routines. Warm up your legs for 3-5 minutes before stretching by doing some light cardio exercise. Be sure to stretch again after your workout, especially if you are recently having ITB pain.
Remember that prevention is easier than treatment! So in addition to stretching your IT bands, include sufficient warmups to your workouts, wear proper shoes, consult your physician before starting an exercise regimen, carefully progress your exercise intensity, and do not work out through an injury. If you have ITB Syndrome, you may also want to use ice, prescribed medications, massage, more ITB stretching, leg strengthening, and Physical Therapy.

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I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

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