The IT band, or Illiotibial band, is connective tissue that runs along the lateral thigh from the hip to the outside of the tibia (shinbone), just below your knee. IT band pain occurs due to inflammation caused by friction between the IT band and thigh bone, often with repeated knee flexion and extension. This inflammation leads to pain on the outside of the knee, especially with repetitive use in running, walking, hiking and cycling.
Commonly, IT band pain occurs in runners and bikers due to the repetitive nature of the exercises. Typically, pain develops due to over training, weakness of the gluteus medius muscle or tightness of the hip flexors that cause abnormal stress on the IT band.1 Ramping up a running program too quickly or being too aggressive with mileage increase may lead to this injury. Additionally, this lateral knee pain can develop if you do not allow enough rest time between workouts or if you consistently skip stretching the lower body. Other risk factors include running on banked surfaces, running downhill, and running in worn out shoes.1
If you are experiencing IT band pain start with RICE—rest, ice, compression and elevation. After the pain calms down it is important to restore proper bio-mechanics with strengthening and stretching. Below are a few exercises that may support your recovery from IT band pain.
Foam rolling can help increase tissue flexibility and increase blood flow to the area to aid in reducing inflammation.2
Clamshells are a great way to activate the gluteus medius muscle, which is important for hip stability, especially with running.
Another great way to strengthen the gluteus medius muscle.
In an isometric exercise, you activate a muscle and hold the contraction without moving your body. Wall sits and planks are common isometrics. This glute wall press isometric is a great way to isolate the gluteus medius muscles that stabilize your hips with walking, running and other activities.
If after trying these exercises you do not see improvement and your pain is persisting, call an Athletico near you to schedule a free assessment. Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Satio, Stephanie S. Orthopedic Rehabilitation Clinical Advisor, edited by Jacklyn Brechter, Mosby Inc, 2010, pp. 546–547.
2. Hotfiel , Thilo, et al. “Acute Effects of Lateral Thigh Foam Rolling on Arterial Tissue Perfusion Determined by Spectral Doppler a Power Doppler Ultrasound.” Journal of Strength and Condi-tioning Research, vol. 31, no. 4, Apr. 2017, pp. 893–900.