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10 Best IT Band Stretches for Hip Pain Relief

Iliotibial band syndrome, also known as IT band syndrome, hip bursitis, or runner’s knee, is a condition that can cause pain and inflammation in the muscles and tendons that run along the outer thigh, causing hip and knee pain. If you’re suffering from this condition, these IT band hip pain stretches could be for you.

What Causes IT Band Syndrome?

ITB syndrome is caused by an overuse injury or improper walking technique. Tightness in the iliotibial band or hip abductor muscles causes the condition. The IT band is a band of fascia (connective tissue) around the knee joint that can cause pain if it gets too tight. This pain is usually present in the quads and hip flexors when the foot hits the ground or at the 30-degree flexion point of the knee. Bands cause friction against the knees when bending and can cause pain.

IT Band Syndrome Graphic

Mechanical imbalances in the body can also contribute to the condition. Improper pelvis alignment or low back alignment may cause the band to stretch excessively. This will cause excessive friction and irritation when the band crosses back and forth across the femoral epicondyle. A dramatic increase in training intensity may also contribute to the condition.

Inflammation of the ITB can also be caused by asymmetry of the body, poor muscle flexibility, and an uneven gait.

Treatment for IT Band Syndrome

To reduce pain, the IT band must be stretched. You must also stop the activity that caused the tight IT band to develop in the first place – rest is crucial. In addition to rest and physical therapy, you can also take anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium for pain relief.

Stretching and Foam Rolling

Stretching and foam rolling are important parts of treatment for IT band hip pain. These exercises improve the range of motion and prevent stiffness in the muscles.

How to Stretch IT Band

Wall or Chair Supported Stretch

Wall Supported Stretch
  1. Start in a standing position with your feet together.
  2. Cross your right leg behind your left leg. Use either a chair or the wall for support.
  3. Lean forward and to the left slightly. Hold for 30 seconds. You should feel the IT band stretch on your right side.
  4. Repeat with the opposite side for a total of five reps on each side.

Laying IT Band Stretch

Laying IT Band Stretch
  1. Start by lying on your side with your legs extended straight.
  2. Place a foam roller or rolled-up towel under your upper leg just above the knee.
  3. Slowly roll back and forth from the knee to the hip, applying pressure to the IT band as you do so.
  4. When you find a tender spot, stop and hold for 30 seconds before continuing.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Belt Strap IT Band Stretch

Belt strap IT Band Stretch
  1. Start by lying on your side with a belt or yoga strap looped around your foot.
  2. Take hold of the belt’s other end with your opposite hand and straighten your leg.
  3. Slowly begin to raise your leg until you feel a gentle stretch down the outside of your thigh.
  4. Keep this position for 30 seconds and then do it on the other side.

Sidelying IT Band Stretch

Sidelying IT Band Stretch
  1. Lie on your side with your affected leg on top.
  2. Bend your top knee and place your foot flat on the ground in front of you.
  3. Keeping your bottom leg straight, slowly raise your top leg until you feel a stretch along the outside of your thigh.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Supine IT Band Stretch

Supine Foam Rolling/ Supine Pec Stretch
  1. Lie down on your back with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Put a foam roller under your right thigh, just above your knee.
  3. Gently move the foam roller up and down your thigh, applying pressure as needed. Stop when you reach your hip.
  4. Keeping the foam roller in place, lift your right leg up and over to the left side of your body. You should feel a stretch along the outside of your right thigh.
  5. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

Forward Fold with Crossed Legs

forward fold with crossed legs stretch
  1. Stand with your feet together. Cross the right leg over the left knee, placing your right foot down outside your left one.
  2. Reach down toward your left foot and take a deep breath.
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite foot.
  4. Repeat for five reps on both sides.

Side-to-Side

06. Side To Side 06. Side To Side Motion
  1. Begin by lying down with your feet drawn to your hips, and your knees pulled up.
  2. Twist your knees gently to one side and stop when you feel your hips start to come off the table or mat. Keep your upper body in position.
  3. Bring your knees back the other way and do the same on the other side.
  4. Repeat 25 to 30 times.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Sporty Doctor Hip Flexors
  1. Kneel with one knee bent on the floor. Put your arm up straight and back slightly.
  2. Keep this position for 30 seconds and release. Repeat three times.
  3. Switch sides.

Bridge

14. Bridge
  1. Begin in a sit-up position, with your arms down by your sides.
  2. Slowly lift your hips from the ground to form a bridge, keeping your shoulders on the ground. Engage your core and gluteus muscles. Hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Lower your hips back down and repeat 20 times.

Add a resistance band around your knees to make the exercise more challenging.

Relieve Pain With These IT Band Stretches

IT band syndrome is painful but can be relieved with regular stretching and workouts. After speaking with your healthcare provider or physical therapist, try these IT band stretches for hip pain to help you return to your daily activities.

As a sports medicine doctor, I see many people suffering from pain in their IT band. If you keep up with your treatment and consistently practice these stretches, you should be feeling relief in no time.

Photo of author

Dr. Kristina DeMatas

Dr. DeMatas practices holistic, evidence-based family medicine that focuses on treating injuries and transforming lives through prevention, rehabilitation, and diet. She is a licensed, practicing Physician at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. Read bio.

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