Iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome is a common overuse injury that typically affects runners, cyclists, and athletes engaged in repetitive activities that involve flexing and extending the knee. The iliotibial band is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee.

Symptoms of ITBS include pain on the outside of the knee, especially during activities that involve repeated bending and straightening of the knee, such as running or cycling.

Updated on April 2023

Treatment for ITBS typically involves a combination of:

  • Rest
  • Activity modification
  • Targeted exercises to stretch and strengthen the iliotibial band and surrounding muscles.

Exercises to Stretch the IT Band

Here are a few IT band exercises:

  1. Side Leg Raises: Lie on your side with legs straight. Lift the top leg upward while keeping it straight. Lower it back down. Repeat for several repetitions on each side.
  2. Clamshells: Lie on your side with knees bent and feet together. Keeping your feet together, open your knees like a clamshell. Close them back slowly. Repeat for several repetitions on each side.
  3. Standing IT Band Stretch: Stand next to a wall or sturdy object for support. Cross the leg you want to stretch behind the other leg. Lean your hips towards the wall until you feel a stretch along the side of the crossed leg. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  4. Foam Rolling: Lie on your side with a foam roller placed under the IT band. Roll your body back and forth, allowing the foam roller to massage the length of the IT band. Spend extra time on any tight or tender spots.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have specific concerns or conditions related to your IT band.

Other interventions may include icing, anti-inflammatory medications, and the use of a foam roller to massage the IT band. In some cases, more advanced treatment options such as corticosteroid injections, are needed. A physical therapy regimen, including hip strengthening and soft tissue mobilization, can also help.

For additional information, call STARS 208-367-6900.

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