Understanding the IT Band
What is it? Your IT band (or Iliotibial band) is a band of tissue located on the lateral side of the thigh.
It connects your pelvis to just below the knee. It runs along the outside of the thigh and aids in the
movement of your leg.
How does it Get Injured?
How does it get hurt? You aggravate it by running on uneven surfaces or by overworking it period.
Using it in a new way for longer distances—i.e. running on a surface that slopes from left to right—is
going to put a new strain on it. So although your muscles are trained to run 7 miles, if you’re running on
a slope, that seven miles will put a horrible strain on your IT band.
Overuse wears it down, causing it to tighten up. What are
symptoms of a strained IT band?
When it’s tight, it will manifest its displeasure in the knee. When it
is deeply aggravated, you will find it hard to move your leg.
Your knee will be difficult to bend and painful when you try. It is
not a pleasurable experience and you’ll recognize it because of its
This pain and immobility is by no means permanent, but it can limit the things you do over the next few
days. Climbing stairs is off the to-do-list, and so is walking long-distances.
You should be back to normal activities within a few days—save running at the same intensity as you
have before, that will take a week or two to work your way back to. Some people don’t have that kind of
time to wait though and search for something they can do to alleviate the pain in the meantime.
They need to get back to running as soon as possible. Luckily, there is something you can do to help it
become usable again for your next run.
How to Help Alleviate the Pain
Grab a foam roller and roll it out. This means that you put the roller on the ground and sit the outside of
your hip on it.
Then lean your weight on the roller, and use your arms to pull your body across it. When you reach the
knee, use your arms again to push your body back to the hip.
Rinse and repeat. Continue this process like a massage.
Do it until you get tired or you feel some stress relief. If it hurts too much, do it until you can’t stand it
anymore, then break for a while.
Use it throughout the day to loosen and keep loose the
band. Get into a habit of doing this throughout the next
several days and you’ll notice an improvement.
With that, continue to use your leg as often as possible.
Walk on it. The worst thing you can do is to stop using it.
When you stop, it only tightens more. Keep active to avoid
making it worse.
There’s a reason that runners are advised to train up slowly, and over an extended period of time for
their races, to avoid troubles with things like this. Train smartly and gradually to reduce your chance of
The Hofmann Institute offers medical help for anyone dealing with extreme knee or hip difficulties in
Utah. They operate an Orthopedic Clinic in Salt Lake and can help you with any knee or hip injuries you
make experience while exercising.