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5 Stretches for a Tight IT Band

<article> <section> <p>If you exercise a lot, or at all, you might wake up one day and notice some serious pain or tightness in the outer part of your knee. Chances are, that’s your IT band. And man, when that thing feels tight—or worse, develops IT band syndrome—you’re in for some serious discomfort.</p> <p>But the good news is a tight IT band can be fixed with exercises and stretching. </p> <p>In this article, you’ll learn how to find your IT band, how IT band syndrome develops, and 5 at-home IT band stretches you can do to alleviate pain.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="IT-band-diagram"> </picture> <header>What Is Your IT Band?</header> <p>Your IT band, or <i>iliotibial band</i>, is a long piece of connective tissue on the outer portion of your leg. </p> <p>The IT band’s job is to assist with knee extension and hip rotation and to provide stability to the back side of your knee <sup>1</sup>.</p> <p>To find your iliotibial band, place your hand on your kneecap, then slide it to the outside corner of your <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">knee</a>. Move your fingers towards your hips about three inches. Massage firmly around the area. </p> <p>Find the spot that feels tender or tight, and you’ve probably found a part of the band of connective tissue running up your leg—your IT band.</p> <p>Why’s it tender or tight? Keep reading.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Causes a Tight or Painful IT Band?</header> <p>Unfortunately, the IT band is quite susceptible to overuse injuries (don’t worry, we’ll show you how to fix it soon). Even if yours isn’t injured, it’s probably tight from exercising or just daily activity.</p> <p>Several things might cause your IT band to be tight, but the most common thing is <i>IT band syndrome</i>, or ITBS. IT band syndrome is quite common, and a variety of physical activities (<a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">walking</a>, running, resistance training) can cause it.</p> <p>You might also get IT band syndrome from <sup>2</sup>:</p> <ul> <li>Not warming up before workouts</li> <li>Pushing yourself too hard</li> <li>Incorrect exercise form</li> <li>Wearing improper shoes during workouts</li> </ul> <div class="sub-head">Symptoms of IT Band Syndrome</div> <p>With ITBS, you might feel pain on the outside of your knee, tightness when <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">squatting</a>, or a stab-like feeling when you exercise <sup>3</sup>.</p> <p>Yeah, not fun.</p> <p>It’s best to nip ITBS in the bud early on. That tightness or irritation left untreated can lead to chronic <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">knee</a> or hip pain down the road.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Can I Exercise with IT Band Syndrome?</header> <p>Yep, you can. And certain exercises and stretches might reduce or eliminate your symptoms—especially exercises for the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">glutes</a> and hips. Actually, regular stretching might get rid of the problem altogether.</p> <p>(By the way, did you read our post about how many problems <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">weak glutes</a> cause? Spoiler alert: ITBS is one of those problems.)</p> <p>In the next section, we’ll look at our 5 favorite stretches that you can do right at home.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>5 At-Home IT Band Stretches and Exercises</header> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="foam-roller-wood-floor"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">1. Foam Roll (Myofascial Release) for the IT Band</div> <p>Never used a foam roller before? Here’s the best way to describe it:</p> <p>Remember what it felt like putting pressure with your fingers on the iliotibial band? It’s like that, but, well, <i>a lot more</i>. It’s basically a great self-massage tool. Gently rolling back and forth on a foam roller, you can loosen up problem areas like the IT band, alleviating tension and breaking up fascia.</p> <p>(<i>Fascia</i>, if you’re wondering, is the name for the thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds your muscles).</p> <p>If you’ve been around <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Warrior Made</a>, you know we love workouts that require no equipment. So don’t worry, <i>you don’t need to go buy a foam roller</i>. Tape together two tennis balls or use a broom handle to massage your iliotibial band.</p> <p><b>Try this</b>: Do 30 to 40 rolls (or massages) on the tight parts of your iliotibial band for the next week.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="pigeon-stretch-yoga-woman"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">2. Pigeon Stretch</div> <p>You know <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">tight, weak glutes</a> can cause IT band syndrome (among other things). Pigeon stretch won’t strengthen them but can help stretch them out.</p> <p>Place the outside of your thigh and knee on the ground in a split position. Gently (and slowly) lean forward. You should feel a stretch in <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">your glutes</a>. If you feel too much pressure in your knees, keep your torso higher (see the top example).</p> <p><b>Try this</b>: Hold pigeon stretch for 60 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat 2 more times.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="supine-twist-stretch"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">3. Supine Twist</div> <p>Keep in mind that everything is connected in our bodies. If you <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">sit too much</a> at work, a <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">tight lower back</a> or core could easily trickle down and be causing problems in the hips or knees.</p> <p>That’s why some lower back and hip stretches can alleviate your IT band pain. And this supine twist stretch is a good one to start with.</p> <p>Lying on your back, bring one leg over to one side of our body, placing a hand on your knee. Look the opposite way, feeling a stretch across your lower back, obliques, and abs get a good stretch here.</p> <p><b>Try this</b>: Hold this supine twist stretch for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat 2 more times.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="hip-flexor-stretch"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">4. Hip Flexor Stretch</div> <p>Again, those pesky chairs (well, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">sitting too long</a>) could be causing problems. Maybe not in your back, but hips. This hip flexor stretch is easy to modify based on flexibility, and a great way to open up the muscles in your pelvis. </p> <p>If your hips are too tight, use your couch (with a pillow underneath your knee) if getting your back shin vertical on a wall is too difficult. </p> <p>Even with stretching it’s important to pick the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">right progressions</a> for where you’re at to avoid injury.</p> <p><b>Try this</b>: Hold this hip flexor stretch for 60 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat 1 more time.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="shoulder-bridges-woman-wood-floor"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">5. Shoulder Bridges</div> <p>Last but not least, one of our favorite beginner exercises for <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">increasing glute strength</a>. Shoulder bridges (and holds) will help you kiss your tight IT band or ITBS problems goodbye. </p> <p>Shoulder bridges help wake up the glutes, stabilize your core, and keep your hips in alignment—all fantastic things if you’re dealing with ITBS.</p> <p>Give shoulder bridge <i>holds</i> a try if you really want to <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">activate the glutes</a>.</p> <p><b>Try this</b>: Either do 20 shoulder bridges, pausing at the top for one second and squeezing the glutes, or a shoulder bridge hold for 60 seconds. Do 3 sets.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>IT Band Stretches—Wrapping Up</header> <p>IT band pain is no joke, and we wouldn’t wish ITBS on our worst enemies. We hope you find these stretches useful and effective for getting rid of pain on the outside of your leg.</p> <p><i>Any other injuries or tight areas</i>? Head over to our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">exercise blog</a>. You’ll find guides for <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">tight shoulders</a>, pain caused from <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">too much sitting</a>, and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">lower back pain</a>, among many other resources.</p> <p>And if you’re ready for a <i>total</i> body transformation—we’re talking less pain, less inflammation, stronger muscles, and a great looking body—check out <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Warrior Made’s fitness tribe</a> for world-class coaching and a community of warriors can help you achieve your goals.</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">IT Band Stretches, Strength Exercises, and More</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Tight IT Band: How to Fix It and Strengthening Exercises</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Causes of IT band syndrome</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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