What is IT Band Syndrome?
IT Band Syndrome, aka Iliotibial Band Syndrome, is also known as runners knee and is common with any high impact sport. The IT Band is a ligament in the leg that connects the hip to the knee which helps stabilize the knee. If you are experiencing pain on the outer side of your knee by extending or bending your knee, then you might have a case of IT Band Syndrome. Not to worry though, following the acronym of RICE can easily alleviate it: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. If resting just isn’t going to cut it, you can try some low impact exercises like cycling or swimming. Here are a few tricks and stretches to help speed up recovery so you can get back on track.
Rolling with the Foam
Many of us have foam rollers to help stretch and massage pain and soreness after workouts, but it can also be used to relieve and stretch the IT Band. Start by lying on your affected side with the foam roller underneath your hip. Gently roll from your hip all the way down to your knee and then gently roll from your knee back up to your hip. This will help stretch out the IT Band and alleviate some pain. If you have any particular spots that are sore because of IT Band Syndrome, roll until you hit the affected area. Keep the foam roller in the affected area to create pressure and help relieve the knot.
Since this is a soft tissue injury, you might want to consider getting in some extra zzz’s. Your body will repair itself and replenish more when you are asleep rather than when you are awake, helping speed up recovery. Plus, everyone needs a lazy day.
Stretch that Ligament
One stretch that will help alleviate and strengthen the IT Band is to start by lying on your back. For this example, I am going to assume that the right leg is affected. Take both of your legs and scoot your feet on the ground so your knees are pointing to the sky. Make sure that your feet are not too close to you; it should be a comfortable position. With your right leg, cross over your left so the right ankle is touching the top of the left knee. Lift the left leg off of the ground; your right knee should be closer to your chest. Reach your left arm around just below the knee of your left leg and with your right arm reach through the opening in-between your legs to meet your left hand. Gently pull the left leg closer to you. You should feel it in your right hip area.
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Hip Isolation Exercises
If you have an exercise band, then this one is for you. Lying down on your side opposite of the affected leg, place the elastic band around both knees. Gently bend both of your legs so that they are not straight out. With the elastic band around your knees, lift the leg closest to the sky; make sure not to rotate your hip. The other leg should stay on the ground for the entirety of the stretch. Repeat on both legs if necessary.
If you do not have an exercise band, or want to try other exercises, lie on the ground with the affected leg closest to the sky. Bend the leg on the ground; making sure it is not straight. Carefully lift the affected leg in the sky, not to high but enough to stretch. Again, making sure that your hip does not rotate and the bottom leg never leaves the ground. Repeat if necessary.
The Light at the Tunnel