Your TFL band can also become overused if you spend a lot of time sitting, especially in positions that involve good amounts of both hip flexion and hip abduction—say, sitting on the couch with your knee pulled up toward your chest on the outside of your shoulder, says Lakes.
What are symptoms of a tight IT band?
Most often, people with ITB syndrome feel a sharp pain on the outside of the knee just above the kneecap when they bend or straighten the knee, says Lakes. Sometimes, IT band knee pain can travel up the thigh to the hip, according to Cedars-Sinai, a nonprofit academic healthcare organization. So yes, considering your IT band for hip pain is a thing.
Some people only have this pain when they work out, especially when they run. (That’s why IT band stretches for runners is super important!) But others may have pain outside of exercise, per Cedars-Sinai.
How do you treat IT band pain?
To treat IT band pain, you want to loosen up the front of the hip as well as strengthen both the glute medius and glute minimus muscles, says Lakes. For some people, stretching alone can resolve the IT band pain, says Lakes, but since that’s not the case for everyone, it’s important to consider both approaches.
You can loosen up the front hip, and thus achieve better flexibility, by foam rolling, applying heat, and/or stretching. And you can strengthen the glute medius and minimus by consistently doing exercises that target these muscles. (You may also consider a mini-band workout that targets your smaller butt muscles).
If you have IT band pain, it’s also important to scale back the activities that are causing the pain. Try running or cycling shorter distances, and if you still have pain, stop these activities completely, suggests the National Library of Medicine. At that point, you may want to check in with a doctor or physical therapist to get evaluated and prescribed a personalized treatment plan.
How often should you stretch your IT band?
You can do IT band stretches as often as every day, says Lakes. Strength exercises should be done a little less often–say, three times a week—since you’ll need time for your muscles to recover and build back stronger. If you’re a runner, Lakes recommends doing strength exercises before you run since they can help properly prime your muscles for the activity.
To keep things even, try to do IT band stretches and exercises on both sides of your body, even if your IT band pain is only on one side, says Lakes. That said, if you’re really limited on time, you can just focus on working the side that’s in pain, he adds.
Quick caveat: Depending on the severity of your IT band pain, the below iliotibial band stretches and moves may not be enough to alleviate your symptoms. Seek help from a doctor or from physical therapy if you have any of these symptoms for a month: feelings of tightness, pulling, clicking or snapping on the outside of the knee when you walk, climb stairs, or transition from sitting to standing (and vice-versa), says Lakes.
Directions: Do the stretches (first three moves) as often as you’d like, holding each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. Do the strength exercises (last five moves) several times a week, aiming for four sets of 15 repetitions each.
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