IT Band Stretches

 

I don’t think it’s coincidence that I have had three different people contact me in the past week or so asking questions about dealing with IT band pain. I feel like this is a topic I am quite well versed in (unfortunately…) and so I wanted to share. I know I have done posts before on the foam roller and had a guest post on IT band exercises for strength and flexibility, but good old fashioned stretching can really help as well. Here are six things I try to do a couple of times a week. My IT band is currently behaving, but that can change so quickly, so I choose to be proactive. I hope these help some of you who have been struggling! oh, and the dogs wanted to help out, too…

Stretch 1: If your RIGHT IT band is the problem, stand with your right foot crossed behind your left and lean towards your left with either your arm in the air or your hands on your hips. Hold for 15-20 seconds, repeat. (follow this rule for all stretches mentioned)

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Stretch 2: If your RIGHT IT band is the problem, sit on the floor with your left leg straight. cross your right leg over your left, and twist your body to the right, pushing against your right leg for resistance.

IT

Stretch 3: Yoga has really helped me, especially the pigeon pose. If your RIGHT IT band is bothering you, put your right leg underneath your body with your left leg out straight behind you. use your arms to balance, and try to sink down as far as you can. Hurts so good! (By the way, I am finally getting slightly visible triceps, which is hard for my long muscles, yay!)

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Stretch 4: Find something sturdy you can lean against, and put your hands on it. if your LEFT IT band is bothering you, use your right leg as the stabilizer leg, and slide your left leg out to the right behind your right leg and push/sink as far as you can.

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Stretch 5: this involves a foam roller (and if you have IT band pain you DEFINITELY should own one of these anyway!) Lay your hip/leg on the side of the pain, put your other leg out in front to stabilize, and ROLL until you find a sore spot, then sit on that spot for several seconds.

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Stretch 6: lay on the floor on your left side if your RIGHT IT band is bothering you. Put your right leg behind your body and hold your foot. Put your left foot/hell on top of your right knee, you should feel a deep stretch.

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aw I got puppy kisses on that one. Melts my heart I tell ya.

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A few key things to keep in mind if you are suffering with IT band pain. (This is based on my own personal experience, if you are having pain go see a doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, etc.)

1.) REST. I took 6 full weeks off of running when mine was at it’s worst. It won’t get better if you keep running through the pain. Trust me on this, I tried.

2.) Foam roll like it’s your job. It hurts, it sucks, but it will help loosen you up, or be proactive and use it a few times a week to keep problems at bay. A tennis ball works, too.

3.) Ice. Icing helped alleviate the swelling, especially at first when I was stupid and still running.

4.) Massage. I know actual sports massages are expensive, but if you can swing it, do it. If you can’t, get your spouse, friend, someone to do it for you, you have got to loosen it up somehow!

5.) Of course, stretch. A good stretching routine is something you should be doing anyway runners! (As I look in the mirror and tell myself…)

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QOTD: Have you ever suffered with IT band pain? Any other helpful hints you can think of?

Comments

  1. Oof. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of IT band issues. Never fun. Stretch number 4 is my go-to and has worked wonders for me. Great post. PS love your pups. TOO cute =)

  2. 1) Thanks so much for posting this! Forwarding it to a friend now.

    2) Much more importantly, red is really your color! :)

  3. Great post—so many good tips!

  4. Thanks – great info! (On a side note, who knew stretching could look so darn cute. :) )

  5. This is awesome! I was just diagnosed with hip bursitis yesterday that was caused by a tight IT band…so stretching my band is going to become a necessity to prevent it in the future!

  6. I spend 47.59485948594850989% of my day in pigeon post.
    it helps! :-)

  7. Thanks! I am still nursing my ITBand after RO12. going to really test it out next weekend at the 10K. If all goes well, I am signing up for my next half and will be stretching and foam rolling like its my job :)

  8. These are all great stretches. I find that most of my running injuries are caused by tight IT bands. Stretching and foam rolling really do help to losen them up.

  9. Stretch #4 is new to me – thanks!

  10. I was out of commission for 2 months last year due to IT Band problems. It was horrible! I’m so careful and make sure I stretch and foam roll now. I don’t ever want that to happen again!

  11. I found stretching every few miles (I like to do it every 2) on a run helps keep it under control. Although, I will say, doing some of those stretches on a street corner makes me feel… awkward? Haha! And also the knee strap for ITBS has basically saved my running life. Allows me to still put in my miles (conservatively, of course).

  12. Heather B says:

    Finally! I’ve been Googling lately, but was not impressed with the “instructions” for IT band stretches. I’ve recently noticed mine has started to get a little tighter now that I’ve upped my mileage and started on an actual training program. This is seriously awesome. Thanks!

  13. Fantatsic list! I do some of these and will be adding the ones I havent tried. Thanks for the share. It’s a constant concern and something to always keep an eye on. Stretching should always be part of your routine. Great pics!

  14. I love pigeon pose!! These are great – thanks for sharing!!

  15. #2 and #3 are my favorites. Foam rollers make me glad I live alone bc I swear up a storm and I’ve tried #6 but I think I’m doing it wrong and always feel like I’m pulling my knee apart. My dog also gets in my face during it, so that’s probably a legit part of the move.

  16. Thanks for the post! I am definitely still stretching and hoping for recovery. I have been told my hips may be to blame OR even the sprained ankle I suffered in December could be causing knee pain!

    And…I have long muscles too! And it’s sooooo hard to get them to show up! haha!

    • my hips are totally to blame. One is rotated forward and one backward. awesome! lol!
      glad I am not the only one feeling the long muscle pain!

  17. The pigeon pose is one of my favorites too! It really helps my hips – which is all related to that darn IT band :) And your puppies — I want to take them home :)

  18. Aw man no stretching routine would be complete without puppy kisses.

  19. I also feel like a bit of an ITB pro stretch 1, 3, & 5 were my major go to moves, plus I had to take 2 full weeks off and I did an ibuprofen regimen of 3 Advil 3 times a day for 10 days. I did ART and Graston at the chiro too but not sure how much that helped. Thanks for the great post!

  20. The roller one is my fave…great post.

  21. Pigeon pose and sitting with a lacrosse ball under my butt saved my running. Awesome roundup!

    Foam rollers hurt, but not NEARLY as bad as ITBS.

  22. Not a runner but recently had spinal fusion and the changes in muscle lengths in both legs as a result have created inflammation along the IT band. Your description of exercises is the BEST I’ve found, and that’s likely because you know the pain and source of the pain better than most. Thanks for having this readily available as I start working this pain away!

  23. Thanks for the info on IT band stretches………so how long did it take for these stretches to get your IT band pain free?

    • It depends on how bad/tight your IT band is. In conjunction with these, I would ice, massage, and not run until you don’t have any pain. If you are still having pain when you run it is not going to get better by keeping on running. it took me 6 weeks of no running and these stretches to be pain free, and to this day I need to foam roll almost every day to keep it at bay. Good luck!

      • Heather,

        Thanks so much for the follow up. Wow…6 weeks….that’s a killer……I have already been struggling with this for 6 weeks without much improvement…….but now with your stretches ( which are great) I hope to change that. Thanks for this info

        • I know it really stinks, I am so sorry. What I would do is walk to warm up, then stop and stretch REALLY well, then try a very slow jog on a flat surface, as long as I had no pain I would keep going. As soon as it would even hurt the slightest, I stopped and walked home. Not much fun but it was the only way, I knew running on it when it hurt was going to make it never heal. I know its expensive but if you can swing a sports massage and have them focus on your IT bands that will help loosen them up as well. Also “foam roll” on a tennis ball. it hurts terribly but helps!

  24. My right knee has been “giving way,” and it becomes wobbly after 10 minutes of running. I’m usually able to go for 5-6 mile runs. Recently these symptoms have come up. My MRI came back all clear last Friday, but the doctor said that my IT band needed to be stretched.

    I’ll be going to a few PT sessions. I’m going to take your advice about not running. I’ve been cheating and I’ve been trying to run on a treadmill, but the same problems occur.

    Would you recommend swimming, while trying to recovery? My soccer league starts tomorrow to.. I’m bummed about that.. Thanks for your help!

    • I think swimming would be ok, b/c I think the tightness is coming from probably something in you biomechanics or an imbalance of muscle strength. I would try it out and see how you feel. Also stretch it really well after you warm up and when you are done and foam roll! Good luck!

  25. Great stretches (and cute puppies too), i’ll be starting these as soon as i get my foam roller back from my dad. I’m a runner and a horse rider and have had knee pain in both legs for months, i was getting away with it using braces but my chiropractor says it’s IT band issues so i’m having to stop running and go on short rides :(

    I’m one of those lucky people who has a sports massage person in the family who worked on me at the weekend and it’s already helped loads.

    Thanks again.

    • Thanks! I hope they help you so you can run!

    • So a general comment on the Foam Roller for everyone. I have had hip now for 5 months. Been to 4 doctors…Chiro….Ortho……xrays…..and now just recently MRI…….the final conclusion…….tendonitis…….solution given to me by the Ortho……..use a Foam Roller for 6 weeks…..continue to strecht but it will not get better without using a foam roller for several weeks. Just thought everyone would like to hear that

  26. Can any one help i have recently strained my IT band and I have to recover but is there any type of exercise that I can do in the meantime just to keep my fitness levels going i.e. swimming, stationary cycling no hills etc. or do you just do upper body training no cardio for 6 weeks, thanks.

    • it really depends on the severity of it. Have you talked to your Dr or PT? I would def. go see a doctor. Mine was really bad and for 3-4 weeks any type of exercise made it tight so I jsut foam rolled, stretched, and did the exercises in my post. Then after about a month I was able to slowly add in things like the bike and swimming but not for long periods of time.

      • Thanks i have printed all you exercises out and I am going to start from tomorrow just rolling and stretching – I have been to a chiropractor and he said that cycling was fine but not swimming and then I spoke to another PT and he said that I will be out of exercise for about 6 months so I do not know who’s advise to use. I thought I was fine until after this weekend exercise and now I am in pain again. I feel so frustrated cause I was training for a triathlon and really getting into it and now I have to wait and start all over again. Does this type of injury never fully heal then from reading your previous notes?

        • Do you think it is better to carry on seeing a chiro or is physio or sports massage better, thanks?

        • wow 6 months! I have never heard that long before. I think if you get IT syndrome you will always be at risk for it so now I proactively do yoga, stretch, and foam roll. I foam roll before and after every run just to be safe. I think I didn’t run at all for 2 months then very slowly started over (I am talking one mile with one minute running one walking and stopping to stretch every couple of tenths) until I could go longer. I think massage is really helpful. if you can find a chiro or PT who will do active release therapy that is helpful.

  27. Great list! Thanks for posting. The photos come in handy and help me hold the stretches much longer! ;) Thanks again!

  28. Thanks for the tips very helpfull. BTW you are a super cutey

  29. I just was diagnosed today with hip bursitis and told to use foam roller and stretch IT band. Now can i still run if i do these 2 things in conjunction?

  30. I was looking for an IT band stretch and came across this. You are drop-dead gorgeous :).

  31. I can’t thank you enough for this list of stretches! My right IT band has been bothering me for sometime and these help so much.

  32. TRUE GRIT says:

    Hey girl you have a great site!
    A bit of background about myself. I was diagnosed with a torn meniscus after having knee pain for ~7 months. It was successfully repaired with surgery. After the surgery, when my knee was sort of healing, I developed pain in my knee cap. Also the muscles in my leg were hurting. Went back to the Doc. He took an X-ray and said I had arthritis and the cause of my pain was because the patella out of alignment and had better start thinking about a total knee!!! I asked him about the sore muscles. He said they were caused by the arthritis!!! Hopped on the internet. Found out that the leg muscles keep the patella centered. Ten days later, after a few stretches and exercises, my knee pain is gone!!! The IT band was the final piece of the puzzle. I can go up and down stairs without my knee hurting now. Yea. I’m ready to resume hiking and my knee strengthening exercises.
    Anyway I really like your site. If I face my computer monitor and try to do a stretch or exercise demonstrated by someone facing me I have to do the mirror image of what they are doing. Also the right is usually demonstrated but my left leg is the affected leg so I have to reverse the reverse. Maybe it’s me but I find this hard to do at times. BUT:You have the presence of mind to get around all this by showing pictures from behind as in stretch 4. I find your directions easy to follow
    Keep up the good work.
    Sorry this got a bit long………

    • Hi thanks for the comment! SO glad you didn’t have to get a total knee replacement, how awful! The pesky IT band is a culpit of a lot of issues with runners! Keep stretching!

  33. I am trying to diagnose something and wondering if my IT Band is part of the culprit. My knee feels “weak”. Did you experience this when you had IT band problems? I went to PT and they said mine was tight but not SUPER tight…

    • Sometimes it would feel weak yes. When on a foam roller does your IT band hurt?

      • No but at PT they said it was a little tight. Not SUPER tight, but tight. I just wonder if that was contributing to a weak/achey feeling in my knee. It would be nice to know if I have IT band issues AND knee issues, or just IT band issues hehe. Anyway, I do that stretch you have pictured where you’re hanging off the back of the couch all the time. Feels great!

  34. There has been a glut of evidence that point toward leading an active lifestyle and regular exercise as the best possible solutions to preventing
    back pain. And yet this is more of an exception than a rule in the western world or countries influenced by the western world.

    It is important that you take extra care while performing your job duty.

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