As a runner I’ve unfortunately experienced IT Band Syndrome.
It’s frustrating when you have a distance you want to run in mind but your IT Band decides differently. Through physical therapy and yoga I’ve learned many different stretches to alleviate and prevent IT Band pain.
One of the main things I’ve learned is that you need to lengthen and release tension in the muscles and ligaments attached to the IT Band. If the outer hip muscles (or other surrounding muscles) are tight then they’re only going to pull on the IT Band, causing pain in this area.
There are many stretches that help to keep IT Band Syndrome at bay, but here are 6 that you can do after a run or on a ‘rest’ day to maintain flexibility in the legs and hips. I’ve also found it helpful to strengthen surrounding muscles but I’ll save that article for another day.
Reclining Big Toe - variation 3: To start, lie down on your back and hug the right knee into your chest. Place a strap, towel or tie around the ball of the foot and extend your leg up to the ceiling. Then, holding the strap with your left hand, stretch the right arm out to the side, and gently guide your leg across midline until you feel a light stretch on the outside of your leg. Play around with the position by drawing the foot closer to your left shoulder or lowering it down toward the opposite foot. Try pressing into the pinky edge side of your foot and pressing out through your heel. Stay here for a few breaths before switching to the other side.
Supine Figure 4: Take the right ankle and cross it on top of the left knee. Stay there or draw the legs in towards the chest for a deeper stretch - you’ll feel it in the right glute and outer hip area. Repeat on the other side
Easy Seat with a Forward Fold: Come to a sitting position with the right shin crossed in front of the left. Take the shins parallel and the feet under the opposing knee. Sit up nice and tall and then start to walk the hands forward stopping when you start to feel resistance in the outer hips. Sway a little side to side to break up tension. Slowly roll your way back up and then switch sides - taking the left shin in front and setting up the same way.
Down Dog with IT Band Stretch: From your regular down dog position - bend your left knee deeply, keep your right leg straight. Pivot the right heel in towards the center of your mat (towards the arch of the left foot). From there turn the right outer hip up and back. Keep turning into it and driving through the arms. Repeat on the other side.
Standing Forward Fold with IT Band Stretch: From your standing forward fold interlace the fingers behind the low back and reach your arms up toward the ceiling. Keeping the right leg straight, bend the left knee deeply - turn your chest to the right and roll the right shoulder open. Repeat on the other side.
Revolved Triangle Pose: Start standing at the top of your mat. Step the left foot back and take a wider stance with the feet. So your feet are more towards the outer edges of your mat - left toes slightly turned out. Hinging at the hip crease, fold forward bringing your hands to a yoga block (or something supportive) under your left shoulder. Reach the right arm up to the ceiling. As you stay here, engage both legs and cut the right outer hip back. This is a great pose to get into the hamstring, outer hip and outer leg/IT Band). Repeat on the other side.
Feel free to hold each pose for as long as feels good - about 3 - 5 breaths. What is your favorite pose to help with IT Band pain? Share with me in the comments below.
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