What is the IT Band anyway?
IT Band - Iliotibial band is a layer of connective tissue extending from the iliac crest to the knee and links the gluteus maximus to the tibia.
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS or ITBFS, for iliotibial band friction syndrome) is a common injury to the knee, generally associated with running, cycling, hiking or weight-lifting (especially squats).
Iliotibial band syndrome is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The IT band is a thick band of fascia on the outside of the knee, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running, as it moves from behind the femur to the front of the femur during activity. The continual rubbing of the band over the lateral femoral epicondyle combined with the repeated flexion and extension of the knee during running may cause the area to become inflamed.
ITBS symptoms range from a stinging sensation just above the knee joint to swelling or thickening of the tissue in the area where the band moves over the femur. The stinging sensation just above the knee joint is felt on the outside of the knee or along the entire length of the IT band. Pain may not occur immediately during activity, but may intensify over time. Pain is most commonly felt when the foot strikes the ground, and pain might persist after activity. Pain may also be present above and below the knee, where the ITB attaches to the tibia.
Physical activities to avoid while symptomatic:
- stair climbing
- deadlifts or squats
- court sports such as tennis and basketball
ITBS can result from one or more of the following training habits, anatomical abnormalities, or muscular imbalances:
- Consistently running on a banked surface, which causes the downhill leg to bend slightly inward, causing extreme stretching of the band against the femur (such as the shoulder of a road or an indoor track).
- Inadequate warm-up or cool-down
- Excessive up-hill and down-hill running
- Positioning the feet "toed-in" to an excessive angle when cycling
- Running up and down stairs
- Hiking long distances
Abnormalities in leg/feet anatomy:
- high or low arches
- supination of the foot
- excessive lower leg rotation due to over-pronation
- excessive foot strike force
- uneven leg length
- bowlegs or tightness about the iliotibial band.
- Weak hip abductor muscles
- Weak/non-firing multifidus muscle
Yoga Therapy for IT Band:
I know that it stinks to have to stop and rest but this is just what your body is telling you you must do now! If you simply cannot stop working out, use this opportunity to focus your practice on upper body strengthening and conditioning and give the lower body a rest! Even better: Take this opportunity to exercise and activate your PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM with some RESTORATIVE YOGA. Yes it looks like a nap and like you aren't doing anything but try it and see what comes up for you! Your resistance to being still IS THE WORK! It isn't easy to slow down or rest and for many of this it is truly the most challenging work out of all (or WORK IN! I should say!). Use this as an opportunity to work on some internal work. (Feel free to contact me for support or questions about this!)
2. Epsom Salt Bath -ahhhhhhhh so lovely. And a great source of magnesium which can be difficult to get enough of from our diets! Win-Win!
3. Reduce inflammation through your diet:
Dairy (Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Butter -all of it!), Sugar, Bananas, White Potatoes, Melons, Citrus, Sulphites, Polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as grape seed, cottonseed, safflower, corn and sunflower oils, Trans-fats (Deep fried foods, fast foods, commercially baked goods and those prepared with partially hydrogenated oil, margarine and/or vegetable shortening), Commercially Raised Meat (fed soy and corn plus hormones and antiobiotics = meat that is not healthy for us), Red meat & Processed meat (cold cuts), alcohol (sorry!), refined grains (white rice, white flour, white bread, noodles, pasta, biscuits and pastries), artificial food additives (i.e., MSG), and any foods that you are particularly sensitive to (this is individual -your known allergens -common allergens include wheat (gluten), milk, nuts, eggs, shellfish/fish, mustard, sesame, soy, nightshade vegetables, tomatoes and foods with histamines.
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), Coconut oil, organic & free-range lean meats, organic poultry & fish, hot water with fresh organic ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, (turmeric, ginger, garlic and onions are all amazing anti-inflammatory ingredients!), coconut milk, licorice, wild-caught salmon, kelp, flax seeds, shiitake mushrooms, green tea, papaya, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes.
*Remember organic is best -pesticides are nasty and preservatives irritate respiratory functioning. I know it's expensive but you are worth it!
** If you would like help with planning an anti-inflammatory diet contact me
When you are no longer in acute pain we can begin yoga asana (postures) for your IT band:
Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Thread the Needle
Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
Reclined IT Band Stretch with Strap
One legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Supine Cow Face & Firelog
Cross-legged seated forward bend. low lunge w/ IT Band stretch, Uttanasana forward fold w/ IT Band Stretch
If you would like to be guided through a yoga practice for the above exercises, or would like a restorative yoga practice, an upper body practice or yoga therapy, I would be happy to work with you!
If you would think that yoga therapy is something that could benefit you (and really it is!), Introduce yourself now by completing my Lifestyle inquiry form to share your personal history and experiences and to let me know your issues and concerns.
- Ellis R, Hing W, Reid D (2007). "Iliotibial band friction syndrome - a systematic review". Manual therapy 12 (3): 200–8. doi:10.1016/j.math.2006.08.004. PMID 17208506.
- Khaund, Razif; Flynn (Apr 2005). "Iliotibial Band Syndrome: A Common Source of Pain". Am Fam Phys 71 (8): 1545–50.
- Top 10 Inflammatory Foods by Wee Peng Ho
- Yoga Poses for your IT Band by Andrea Drugay
- Images: Yoga Journal Website, Sisselshop & Sadie Nardini