By Lacy Clevenger, PTA
If you’re experiencing a nagging, achy pain on the outside of your hip or knee, you may be dealing with IT band syndrome. This is common with running and endurance sports or any activity that requires repetitive bending of the knee. The IT band is a thick connective tissue that starts at the top of the hip and attaches below the knee. Pain starts to occur when there is friction between the IT band and the bones of the hip or knee, though pain is more commonly experienced at the knee. Weak hips and lack of lower extremity flexibility can make you more prone to this.
Here are 5 stretches/exercises to treat IT band syndrome and help prevent recurrence:
- Foam rolling: Lie on the affected side with the foam roller just below the hip bone. Slowly roll until the foam roller is just above the knee joint, then roll back to the starting position. Repeat this 10-15 times. Discomfort is common with this, but will improve with time.
- Hip flexor stretch: Sit on the edge of a bed and hug one knee toward your chest. Lie back, then actively pull the opposite heel down towards the floor as well as back towards the bed. This should create a stretch along the front of your hip/thigh. Hold this for 30-60 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
- Glute stretch: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor/bed. Cross one ankle onto the opposite knee then pull your knee towards your opposite shoulder. A stretch should be felt on the back and/or side of the hip. Hold this for 30-60 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
- Clam shells: Lie on your side with both knees bent. Try to keep your shoulders, hips, and knees in a straight line so that your feet are resting behind you. Keep your heels together and lift the top knee, stopping just before you feel the hips start to roll backwards. Repeat slowly 20-30 times. An elastic band can be added around the legs, just above the knees to add resistance and increase difficulty. \
- Side leg lifts: Lie on one side and lift the opposite leg up towards the ceiling, keeping the knee straight. As you lift the leg, keep it slightly behind the hip which helps to engage the glutes. Do not let your hips roll backwards. Repeat 20-30 times or until muscle fatigue is felt.