Finding Relief From IT Band Pain with Iliotibial Band Stretching Exercises

The illiotibial band is a strand of connective tissue that runs down the outside of the leg from the iliac crest (hip area) to the knee. The iliotibial band, commonly referred to as the "IT band" is attached to the gluteus maximus and extends to the tibia (leg bone). It is part of a muscle called the tensor fasciae latae that also connects to the knee.

When the IT band becomes tight, it can wreak havoc for the avid fitness enthusiast, causing pain and discomfort in the knee and even hip area. Some of the best treatments for this have been found to be with deep tissue massage and several strengthening and stretching exercises.

Stretching Exercises

Here are a few great selections to get back on your feet and running again.

Bent Over Standing Stretch: Begin in standing upright position and cross one foot over the other. Bend over at the waist to touch toes. This will stretch the muscles of the outer thigh.

Standing Side Stretch: Start out in same position with legs crossed. Raise one arm over head to opposite side and lean to side of straight leg. Push hip out to stretch the hip and glute area. Keep your body to the side and be careful not to lean forward or rotate body.

Seated IT stretch: Sit with both legs straight in front of you. Cross one leg over other leg, with bent knee. Place flat foot on ground on outside of the knee at straight leg. Turn torso slowly in opposite direction, while keeping posture straight.

Lying IT band stretch: For a non-weight bearing approach, begin by lying face-up, legs out straight. Cross one leg under straight leg and tuck under knee. Relax and keep both hips level throughout the stretch.

The Brettzel: Another wonderful stretch that works not just the illiotibial band, but all of the larger muscles in the body, is the Brettzel. This exercise rehabilitates any imbalances in the hips and shoulder girdle. Begin by lying on side with legs bent and stacked evenly on one another. If lying on right side, grab your right ankle with your left hand. Then place your right hand over the back of your left knee, (this leg should be the one on top). Pull gently on each leg to pull them away from each other, while maintaining your original hip position. To advance this stretch, maintain the position while pulling shoulders square onto floor. Switch sides and repeat.

Each stretch should be done with caution and discretion. If you have any medical condition or pain, consult with a physician before doing these.

References

Iliotibial Band Syndrome-American Family Physician:www.aafp.org

Treating Knee Pain and Illiotibial Band Syndrome-www.thestretchinghandbook.com/archives/knee-pain.php

"The Brettzel Story" Gray Cook-www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/539/