by Wayne Gilmour, DPT
We’ve all heard of the IT band. Maybe you have even heard people say their ITB is tight or you’ve had pain at the outside of your knee and someone told you it’s your IT band. But what exactly is your IT band? Why can it cause knee and hip pain? And what are some alternative IT band stretch that are more beneficial than foam rolling?
The illiotibial band or IT band (ITB) is a thickening of the fascia at the outside of the thigh that starts at the top of the hip and inserts below the knee. It helps stabilize the knee while standing on one leg through tightening the tensor fascia latae (TFL) muscle. It can become tight through repetitive motions such as running or biking and with weakness at the glute muscles.
The ITB is a connective tissue called fascia that does not necessarily respond to foam rolling. Research has found that the amount of pressure it would take to change ITB length would require a hydraulic press to achieve – ouch! This means rolling with a foam roller or even PVC pipe is just pain without gain. Instead, check out the exercises below to improve mobility at the muscles around the ITB and allow it to move better.
LAX Ball to TFL
ITB Stretch (2 sets x 1 min hold each side)
Lay on your back with a stretch strap on one foot. Lift the leg up like you are doing a hamstring stretch and then let the leg fall to the opposite side keeping the shoulder on the same side down. Hold for a minute with two reps on each leg.
Dynamic ITB Stretch (5 reps each side)
Step back into a lunge with right foot forward and left foot crossed behind the other (curtsy lunge). Reach your left hand up and over to the right side. Return to center and switch sides. Alternate sides 5 times each.
Still having ITB tightness or pain? Schedule an appointment at one of our clinics to get a comprehensive assessment.