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How to Stretch your ITB along your Outer Hip and Knee to Avoid Pain

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Lately, I have been amazed at how many patients have come in with the same diagnosis of an illiotibial band (ITBand) syndrome! This can be such a painful problem of the hip and knee usually felt by runners or cyclists. But what is this syndrome and what causes it?

itb stretch

The illiotibial band (ITBand) is a thick band of tissue that starts at the top of the hip and runs down the outside of the thigh all the way to the top of the shin bone. This band gets inflamed from overuse and lack of stretching and will create pain mostly at the outside of the knee. If pain is felt in these areas the first line of treatment is to reduce the inflammation and pain by using ice, rest and gentle stretching.

This picture of the ITBand standing stretch shows that the leg you are stretching is behind the other leg. You should feel the stretch along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee of the back leg. Once the inflammation has come down enough that the area is not so painful, gentle strengthening can begin. A physical therapist can show you how to strengthen the inner thigh muscles and glut muscles, which will reduce the stress on the ITBand.

There are many different ways to stretch the ITBand so find the way that is best for you. A deep form of massage of myofascial release (on a foam roller) is another way to loosen this band and a physical therapist can show you the best way to do this. Remember that a tight ITBand can cause pain at the hip joint all the way down to the outside of the knee, which can even make lying on your side painful. Speak to your doctor if you are noticing pain with walking or lying on the hip and with a good stretching and strengthening program you can get rid of this annoying pain!

Contributed by Krista Magnoli, PTA and Nancy Whelan, PT West Palm Beach Physical Therapy Center in West Palm Beach, FLorida.

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