IT band inflammation is caused by poor biomechanics, or training errors. A few things out of your control that may contribute to IT pain are differing leg lengths, bowed legs or overly tight glutes and thighs. Some training errors you can change include running on even surfaces, using rest days and stretching your glutes and thighs.
The iliotibial, or IT, band is a tough collection of fibers that runs down your outer thighs from your hip to your lower leg bone. It acts as a stabilizer during running. Two muscles, your gluteus and your tensor fascia latae, attach to the top of the IT band. When these muscles are overused and the IT band is irritated, you feel pain on the outside of your knee or lower thigh. A foam roller stretch to release the two muscles attached to the IT band will bring relief.
Foam rollers are dense, cylinder-shaped tools available in 1- to 4-foot lengths and 4- to 6-inch diameters. When you apply a foam roller to the IT band, you relieve band tightness. A roller stretch also breaks down scar tissue, similar to a deep tissue massage. When you apply the foam roller to the muscles, you reduce muscle tightness and decrease the pull of the muscles on the IT band. Foam roller stretches are best used when your body is warm, so perform the stretches after your workouts, or after you walk for five minutes.
Tensor Fascia Latae
The tensor fascia latae muscle is on the top of your outer thigh. To stretch this area, place your roller on the floor and rest the outer thigh of your right leg on the top of the roller. You are in a side-lying position with your left hand placed on the floor beside the roller. Your right leg is straight. The left leg is bent with the left foot on the floor in front of your right leg. Keep the roller off your hip and knee joints, but roll it up and down your outer thigh to release the IT band. If one point feels very tense, leave the roller on that area for a longer amount of time. Breathe normally as you roll your right leg. Repeat the exercise on the left leg.
The glutes connect to the IT band, so a roller stretch for your backside will also release the outer thigh. Place the roller on the floor and sit on the widest part of the roller. Straighten your right leg. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on the floor. Place both hands on the floor behind you. Use your hands and your left leg to roll your right glute back and forth across the roller. Lift your right foot off the floor for a deeper stretch. Repeat the exercise on your left leg.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.