How to Stretch the IT Band
If you read my last blog post on IT Band Syndrome, you'll know that one of the best ways to treat IT band pain is to perform some targeted stretching and strengthening to the hip musculature (as well as seeing your friendly Chiropractor in NW Calgary Dr. Elaine Screaton to give you a proper diagnosis and Active Release treatment to affected muscles ;) )
Below are some of my favourite stretches and exercises to help reduce IT band pain, while avoiding doing painful rolling of the IT Band.
Standing Pigeon Stretch
This is one of my favourite stretches for the outside of the hip and IT band. Using a table, bench, or bed (something just below hip height), put your shin on the surface and hinge forward at the hips. You should feel a stretch on the outside of your elevated leg into the buttock. You can move the shin changing how much your knee is bent to change where you feel the stretch and how intense the stretch is!
IT Band Stretch
Yes, for IT band pain it makes sense to stretch the IT band. In reality, we are stretching the TFL (Tensor Fascia Latae) with this stretch as the IT band itself is thick fascia so we are unlikely to stretch it directly. You may feel this stretch in the side of the hip, down the side of the leg or even into the outside of the knee.
Figure 4 Stretch
This stretch is another great way to stretch the hip muscles (piriformis, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus). You should feel this stretch mostly in the outside of the hip.
Oddly enough, one of the best ways to get rid of IT band pain is to strengthen the external hip rotators and pelvic stabilizers like gluteus medius and minimus. This Clamshell exercise is one way to do it. You should feel the outside of the top hip doing most of the work. If your pant has a seam down the side of the leg, you should feel the muscle just behind the pant seam doing most of the work here.
Standing Hip Abduction
Again, this exercise is designed to strengthen and active our gluteus medius and minimus. Like the clamshell exercise, you should feel the muscle just behind the pant seam doing most of the work (you can feel this with your fingers). You don't need to lift the leg out to the side too much, if we think of a clock you would really only lift it to 4 or 7 on the clock (which isn't that high!)
As mentioned, a combination of manual therapy like Active Release Technique, and home exercises and stretches tends to be the most effective at managing IT Band pain. Always consult your health care professional prior to starting any exercise program to ensure it's right for you.