Many people who are active feel sore knees either during or after participation in exercise and sports. Unsure if they did anything to cause injury, most people just rest and then resume activity. The IT (iliotibial) band can be a major culprit in some of these injuries. The IT Band runs down the side of your leg from just above your hip all the way to your knee. A tight IT band can pull the patella to the outside and cause some havoc with patellofemoral gliding. At the same time, a tight IT Band can increase pressure over the greater trochanter and its bursa causing trochanteric bursitis. Being able to keep the IT Band supple can help to stop both knee pain and some hip pain.
How do you keep the IT Band supple? There are really two ways that work, and it is best if you perform both of them together. A strong hip will help create better alignment of the leg reducing the load on the ITB. A majority of my patients demonstrate strength deficits in the gluteus medius muscle with is a strong supporter of pelvic alignment during ambulation. Other hip dysfunctions due to weakness may result in walking or running with your leg rotated away from midline and the toes pointing more outward than forward. Remember, strong and stable hips will help keep the IT Band from getting to tight.
Sometimes people are really tender along the IT band. You can check yourself by applying gentle pressure along the side of your leg between your hip and knee. If this is the case, the strengthening exercises below will help you out, but you will need to perform some “stretching” type of exercises as well. I have found that even with a tight IT Band, it is a difficult muscle to perform a stretch to, but it is possible for some people. What I find to be most effective to loosen the tissue is a self massage with a foam roller or a self roller.
Here are two exercises to help you on your way to stronger hips!
Side Lying Leg Raise
You can always use a foam roller to help massage out the ITB. If this is not progressing the way you would like, please call us at Advantage Physical Therapy and schedule an appointment