6 Exercises to Beat IT Band Syndrome

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The IT band is the ligament that runs down the outside of the leg, from the hip to the knee. IT band syndrome is one of the most common running injuries. Often due to overuse, it results in an irritated and inflamed IT band which can make running difficult. Stretches and icing of the IT band can help relieve some of the associated pain. However, many runners find that as soon as they continue their running routine the condition comes right back.

Symptoms often include pain located on the outside of the knee. This is often an indicator of misaligned femur movement pattern. How do we fix this? Exercises that target glute strengthening and pelvis alignment can be great combaters for IT band syndrome. The following offers 6 exercises you can do to help get you back on track and counteract that annoying IT band syndrome that just won’t quit.

Side Leg Abduction

Side leg abduction works the glutes and abductors of the leg. Glute strengthening aids in stabilization of the femur and helps re-align the pelvis.

How To:

  1. Lie on your side with the affected leg straight on top. The bottom leg can be slightly bent.
  2. Slowly lift your top leg as high as you can, without pain.
  3. Slowly lower back to start.
  4. Repeat 10 times and do 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Contract the core to ensure the pelvis remains neutral throughout the exercise. The trunk should not rotate.
  • To progress the exercise, an ankle weight can be added or a resistance band can be wrapped around the ankles.

Clamshell

The clamshell exercise specifically targets the gluteus medius, the outermost portion of the gluteus muscles. The gluteus medius stabilizes the pelvis and aids in balancing out muscles in the legs which can prevent overuse injuries, such as IT band syndrome, from occurring.

How To:

  1. Lie on your side with the affected leg on top.
  2. Slightly bend both knees to approximately 45 degrees, keeping your feet together.
  3. Keeping the feet together, slowly lift the top knee.
  4. Slowly lower back to start.
  5. Repeat 10 times and do 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Contract the core to stabilize your trunk.
  • To progress the exercise, attach a resistance band around both knees.

Hip Hikes

This exercise, similar to the clamshell, also targets the gluteus medius. It aids in correctly hip alignment.

How To:

  1. Stand on a step, with the affected leg hanging off the edge.
  2. Slowly hike the hip up.
  3. Slowly lower back down to a neutral position and repeat.
  4. Do 10 times for 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Be careful to not twist the trunk during the exercise and to maintain a straight posture.

Bridging


Bridging is considered the king of all glute muscle exercises. Further, it also works the hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thigh, to a certain extent. The hamstrings can be further targeted with increased progressions on this exercise.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat or floor.
  2. Carefully lift the buttocks and hips off the ground. Your body should create a straight line from the knees to the shoulders.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower and repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Gently squeeze the glute muscles when lifting the hips and buttocks off the ground.
  • To progress this exercise, use an exercise ball to support your legs or add a weight at your midsection.

Lateral Walk

The lateral walk exercise works the abductor muscles of the leg supporting hip and leg alignment. Correction in misalignment may prevent and reduce the occurrence of IT band syndrome.

How To:

  1. Wrap a resistance band around your ankles.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and with a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Step to the side.
  4. Repeat 10 times each way for 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks

  • Maintain a straight posture throughout the exercise. Gently contracting the core may protect the lower back from injury.
  • Increase the resistance of the band to progress the exercise or move the band up to the knees for a higher difficulty level.

One-legged Squat

The one-legged squat targets many major muscles used in running. The hamstring, quad, glute, calve, and hip muscles are all activated in this exercise.

How To:

  1. Stand tall with your arms out stretched in front at shoulder height.
  2. Lift the non-affected leg off the ground.
  3. Slowly bend down, sticking your buttocks out and maintaining a straight posture, into the affected knee as far as you can without pain.
  4. Carefully push through the heel back up to start.
  5. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Try to keep the knee and thigh aligned properly throughout the exercise. The knee should not collapse inward.
  • Gently contract the core muscles to maintain a neutral spine and to protect the lower back.
  • The lower you go in this exercise, the harder it is.

 

If the pain persists or worsens during the exercises, seek out your local physician or physical therapist. There may be more going on. A physical therapist will be able to properly diagnose and treat the problem. They will help you on the road to recovery and eventually, get you back on track with your running goals.

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Melissa

About Melissa

Melissa is the Community and Content Marketing Manager at Lumo Bodytech. She spends her free time reading, doing karaoke, and training for her next triathlon.

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