Four Tips to Treat ITB Pain
What is your ITB? The ITB or iliotibial band is a thick fibrous band that runs from your hip to your knee. It helps to stabilize both joints but can often become irritated or inflamed, resulting in pain/discomfort in the hip, along the ITB, or near the knee.
Here are four tips to help eliminate ITB dysfunction:
1.) Improve muscle strength, specifically gluteus medius
Often times weak hip muscles can contribute to ITB dysfunction. Gluteus medius should be the primary abductor or “stability muscle” of the hip. If the gluteus medius is weak the TFL (tensor fasciae latae) becomes over worked, which can ultimately cause ITB pain. One of the best ways to strengthen gluteus medius is to perform a simple clamshell exercise.
2.) Improve muscle flexibility
Stretching muscles will improve flexibility and help to eliminate tightness surrounding the hip. Contrary to popular belief you cannot stretch your ITB. It is a fibrous band that is not meant to be stretched. Instead you want to stretch the surrounding musculature like hip flexors, hip external rotators, hamstrings, quads, and TFL.
3.) Improve soft tissue mobility (separate ITB from quads/hamstrings)
A key component to treating ITB dysfunction is separating the tissues adjacent to ITB. Performing a myofacial release to separate the ITB from the quad and ITB from the hamstring will allow for improved tissue mobility and reduce tension on the ITB. One of my favorite self myofacial releases comes from Chris Johnson, PT and can be found here.
4.) Correct Alignment Dysfunctions
One of the most common causes of ITB dysfunction is leg length discrepancy, which can lead to a chain reaction of events. An anteriorly rotated innominate results in one leg being slightly longer than the other. As a result, the longer leg will cause the foot to over-pronate and the arch will collapse. When the foot over-pronates and the arch collapses it causes tibial internal rotation while in the late stance phase of gait. Tibial internal rotation puts more stress/strain on the ITB.