The Illotibial Band (IT Band) is a long band of connective tissue that runs down the outside of your thigh from your hips down to your shin.  It seems fairly inconsequential until it shortens.  Suddenly it’s as if your leg short circuits all the time.  An injured IT Band can cause you to blow out your knee during your first half-marathon – or it can take months to heal. How does this happen and how can you fix your IT Band? Read on for some helpful tips.

The How

You can injure your IT Band by sitting too long at your desk job or by quickly putting too much strain on it.  Newbie runners often encounter IT Band issues as their first injury. By not stretching – and running too fast for too long – the tissue shortens and causes serious pain. It is a classic case of overuse.

Other causes for Illotibial Band Syndrome include weak hip muscles, poor running form, shoe or orthotic issues and tight tissues.

Get Your Fix

While foam rollers are a great and easy way to ease IT Band pain and help lengthen the tissue, there is more to be done.  Become Stretch Armstrong and use key stretching moves daily after each run. A set of leg cross-over stretches works well.

  1. While standing cross one ankle in front of the other and lean away from the IT Band pain.  Do both sides for 10-20 seconds at a time.
  2. Sit down on the ground with your legs out in front of you.  At the knee cross one leg over the other with your foot placed on the ground next to your knee.  With the opposite hand hold the knee and twist your body towards the knee.  It provides a deep stretch to the IT Band.  Repeat on each side for 10-20 seconds.

Yoga is a great way to add length to the IT connective tissue.  Poses like the pigeon, downward facing dog and the one-legged seated spinal twist will increase flexibility while stretching and lengthening this very important part of your leg.  Just like yoga, massage is another area to explore to temporarily ease IT Band pain.

Strengthening is wise when you have an injured IT Band.  It helps minimize pain too.  Take a rest from the activity that caused the pain and instead begin to strengthen the weak hip and gluteus muscles that surround and support the IT Band.  Adding a series of squats, lunges, and single-leg squats to your daily routine will bulk up those supportive muscles and help eliminate the IT Band pain.  In a few weeks or months you will be as good as new.