Iliotibial Band Stretches

1
Overview Of Iliotibial Band Stretches

Photo of woman running with hip muscles exposed.
A solid hip exercise program can keep you injury free. Henning Dalhoff / Getty Images

The iliotibial band is a thick tendinous fascia that originates on the outside portion of the hip and extends to the side of the knee. After activities such as running, walking, or hiking, the iliotibial band can become tight and inflamed. This results in a condition known as iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS).

Iliotibial band syndrome is characterized by pain along the side of the thigh and knee. It occurs when a shortened iliotibial band causes friction over the hip and knee joint. This friction results in inflammation of the fascia. Rest and stretching are the first steps in the treatment of iliotibial band syndrome.

If you have ITBS, you may benefit from physical therapy to help treat your condition. Your physical therapist can assess your range of motion and strength and prescribe exercises - much like the stretches in this program - to help treat your ITBS.

Remember to check in with your doctor before starting this - or any other - exercise program for Iliotibial band syndrome.

2
The World's Greatest Ilitibial Band Stretch

The lateral portion of the knee and ITB get stretched with this exercise.
Stretch the outside part of your knee and the ITB by pulling your knee down with your opposite foot. Brett Sears, PT, 2012

Want to get a great stretch of your Iliotibial band as it crosses your knee? Then this stretch is for you. Many physical therapists know about it, but not many patients use it. Here is how you do the sidelying iliotibial band stretch:

  1. Lie on your side with your affected knee on top.
  2. Bend your top knee and grab your ankle. You should feel a tightness in your quadriceps muscle with this.
  3. Pull back a bit, and then place your bottom foot on the side of your top knee.
  4. Gently pull the foot on your knee down towards the floor, elongating the outside part of your top thigh.
  5. You should feel a stretch in the side of your knee where the IT band crosses the knee.
  6. Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, and then release.
  7. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Be sure to keep your body still during the stretch - no rocking backwards. The more you are able to keep yourself in a neutral position, the better a stretch you will get.

3
Seated Hip and ITB Stretch

Image of the hip rotation stretch.
The hip rotation stretch helps to keep your hips rotating and moving freely. Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

A great stretch for your ITB and your hip and piriformis is the seated hip rotation stretch. Here is how you do it:

  1. Sit with your legs extended out in front of you.
  2. Cross the involved (hurting) leg over your other leg, bending your knee and placing your foot flat on the floor.
  3. Rotate your body to look over the shoulder on the involved side until you feel a stretch.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat four more times.

4
The Standing ITB Stretch

The standing ITB stretch is a good one because it can be done anywhere - at home or the office, or at the gym before working out. You can lean on a wall for balance if it is easier. Here is how you do it:

  1. Stand upright.
  2. Cross the involved (hurting) leg BEHIND the opposite leg.
  3. Lean to the uninvolved side (away from the sore side) until you feel a stretch across the affected iliotibial band.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Uncross your legs and stand up straight again.
  6. Repeat four more times.

Some people feel a stretch at the area of their hip where the ITB arises, while others feel a tightness at their knee during this stretch.

5
Knee to Opposite Shoulder Stretch

Here is a relaxing stretch to round out your ITB stretching routine:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Bend the knee of the involved (hurting) leg.
  3. Grasp behind the bent leg's knee with both hands and pull the involved leg toward the opposite shoulder.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Relax your leg.
  6. Repeat four more times.

Stretching your ITB may be just one component of your rehab program for iliotibial band friction syndrome. Many people with ITBS also benefit from strengthening your hip muscles and working to improve balance and running mechanics. Your PT can help you determine the best overall program for your ITBS and can help you get back to your normal activity level quickly and safely.

Edited by Brett Sears, PT.

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