The Pesky IT Band

man holds knee in pain

Are you an active biker, runner, recreational or competitive athlete limited by pain on the outside of the thigh or the outer knee? You may be one of the many people dealing with pain in the iliotibial (IT) band!

What is the IT band?

The IT band is a strip of fascia that connects the gluteus maximus (glute max) and the tensor fascia latae (a large strong hip muscle) to the outside of the knee. This band of connective tissue is important for translating force created by these strong hip muscles to stabilize the knee, particularly when we are standing on one foot or producing force on one side of our body.

IT Band Pain

How does one injure the IT band?

A common misconception is that tightness is what causes pain in the IT band. While it is true that tight hip muscles or a tight IT band can create increased tension and pain, the true cause of the problem is poor stability of the pelvis, lower back and hips. When our hip and core stabilizers aren’t working properly, it forces increased tension into the IT band to create stability, which leads to the pain many of us experience on the outer thigh and knee.

How do we fix IT band pain?

This is truly a multipronged approach. The key is determining what is leading to the poor stability you are experiencing or the imbalances on one leg. However, good places to start include aggressively strengthening your glutes and core, improving your single-leg balance, and stretching the glutes, hip flexors and hip abductors! It can be helpful to have a physical therapist or licensed massage therapist perform massage or soft tissue mobilization, known as ASTYM, to the outer/front hip and thigh as well. 

Here are two quick exercises to get you started!

What resources are there to help with IT band pain?

MANY! Your local physical therapist is the best person to consult with to solve this problem long-term. However, short-term relief can be obtained with chiropractic, massage, or other forms of bodywork such as massage guns, foam rolling, stick rolling, etc.

If your pain gets worse, or you can’t seem to find any relief, please call the Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy clinic near you or another medical professional who can evaluate your injury and determine the best course of treatment.

We look forward to being a part of your healthcare team.

From injury recovery to movement and performance enhancement, patient success is our passion. Our therapists are committed to the application of evidence-based treatment techniques to ensure you experience the best in rehabilitation and preventative care and see progress with every visit.

Man and woman biking outdoors

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