Recovery Leg injuries stretches

IT Band problems

Why do lots of runners get ITB  or IT band problems from running?

Most runners will have heard of the iliotibial band or ITB or IT band, as it’s often blamed for injuries and discomfort.

What is the IT band?

It is a thick band of tense tissue which runs from the ileum bone in the pelvis down the outer thigh to the outside of the knee. It helps to stabalise the hip and knee, and works with the hips as you run.

Who suffers from IT band pain?

The highest risk group in runners are people who are increasing their distance, running high mileage, or have body mechanics issues. Weak hip muscles or an uneven running style will also increase your risk factor.

Women runners can also be more susceptible to knee issue due to the angle of their thigh bone in relation to the wider pelvis women have. This means the kneecap can pull away when exercising – especially when running as you are on one leg.

why does the knee often hurt with IT band pain?

Pain from the ITB can be felt anywhere but is most often felt at the side of the knee. The exact reason and cause for this is largely unknown.

What is the treatment for IT band pain?

The good news is that it usually corrects itself within 8 weeks. When you first experience the pain you should reduce or change your activities. Running is likely to be painful – so you will have to stop running for a few weeks. Take up swimming, walking or cycling for a few weeks.

It’s also important to build strength to correct the underlying cause of the injury. Developing strength in the gluteus can also help as this creates a stable alignment for the kneecap.

Listen to your body. If it starts to twinge again, then cut down on the mileage and repeat the strenghtening exercises.

Stretches for IT band

For a stretch of the upper portion of your right IT band, cross your left foot in front of your right foot so that your left heel is near your right little toe. Slightly bend your right knee. While keeping your hips pointed straight forward slide them towards the right and tilt your shoulders to the left. You will most likely feel most of the stretch in the outer portion of the butt, and some stretch along the side of your thigh. Alter the bend in your right knee to get more stretch on the side of the thigh. Hold for ten seconds and repeat five times.

For a stretch of your right lower portion of the IT band, lie on your left side with your hips flexed 45 degrees. With your right hand reach down and grasp your right ankle. Pull your right ankle back and towards your butt until your thigh is in a straight line with your back. This is a powerful stretch; you may need to be cautious with how far you pull your heel towards your butt. Next, lower your right knee to the floor while maintaining your thigh in line with your back. You will feel quite a bit of stretch in the quadriceps muscle but should also feel stretch in the lower portion of the IT Band on the outer side of your knee. Hold for ten seconds and repeat five times.