How to Stretch your IT Band

The Iliotibial Band, commonly referred to as IT band, is a group of fibers that run along the outer thigh from the hip to just below the knee. The primary function of the IT band is to stabilize the entire leg when running or climbing up stairs. It becomes inflamed, irritated and painful due to overuse. Here are some ways to alleviate IT band discomfort:

Simple Standing Stretch

  1. Stand in a doorway.
  2. Cross your left leg in front of your right.
  3. Reach your right arm up and over to the left side of the doorframe.
  4. Put your left hand on your left hip.
  5. Push your left hip gently to the right. You should feel a slight stretch on your right side.
  6. Continue to push your left hip gently to the right until you feel a stretch along your torso, hip, thigh and knee of your right side.
  7. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.

To deepen the stretch:

  1. Begin by standing with your feet further apart.
  2. Bend your front knee.
  3. Keep the back knee straight.

Supine Stretch

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Put your right ankle on the opposite knee.
  3. Grab behind your lower left hamstring and gently pull towards your left shoulder. You should feel a stretch in your right IT band.
  4. Stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Switch sides.

Piriformis Stretch

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight.
  2. Lift your right leg and bend your knee.
  3. With your left hand, reach across your body and gently pull your knee toward your opposite shoulder. Your knee will come across your body. Try to keep your right shoulder on the ground.
  4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
  6. Switch sides.

Seated Stretch

  1. Sit with your legs out in front of you.
  2. Cross your right leg over your left leg, bending your knee and placing your right foot flat on the floor.
  3. Twist your torso and look over your right shoulder until you feel a stretch.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 4 more times.
  6. Switch legs.

Foam Roller for IT Band Pain

  1. Place the foam roller under your calves. Using your hands for support, gently roll from your knee down to your ankle, holding still for a few seconds at any tight or sore spots.
  2. Roll with your feet turned in. Keep your toes flexed and pointed.
  3. Roll with your feet turned out.
  4. Place your body sideways on the foam roller, with the foam roller under the outside of your right gluteus. Using your hands for support, gently roll from your outer gluteus down to your outer knee, holding still for a few seconds at any tight or sore spots.
  5. Switch sides.

Advanced Stretch (Pigeon Pose in Yoga)

This is a more advanced stretch. It is advised to warm up the IT Band before engaging in this stretch by doing the above stretches.

  1. Start in a high push-up position on your hands and toes.
  2. Slide your right knee forward toward your right hand and your right toes toward your left hand with your outer ankle touching the floor.
  3. Slide your left leg back as far as you comfortably can.
  4. Keep your hips square to the floor. You should feel a stretch in your right hip and outer thigh.
  5. Breathe slowly and deeply for 30 to 6 seconds.
  6. Release and switch sides.

To deepen the stretch:

Instead of staying up on your hands after Step 4, fold forward. You can either let your forearms rest on the floor in front of you with your forehead resting on top, or you can fully extend your arms in front of you with your forehead resting on the ground.

Check out this video for a more visual approach:

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