Iliotibial Band Stretches

By Chloe Wilson, BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy

5 great iliotibial band stretches for the ITB

Iliotibial band stretches are a great way to reduce knee, hip and back pain and the symptoms of iliotibial band syndrome.

Here, we share our 5 favourite ITB band stretches, with easy to follow instructions and images to help you beat ITB pain.

The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of your leg from your pelvis to your knee. Some of the buttock and hip muscles attach to it and the ITB co-ordinates how these muscles work and stabilises the knee.

Why Stretch The ITB?

Tightness of the ITB can make subtle changes to the way the knee moves resulting in knee pain, particularly in runners.

The Iliotibial Badn runs down the outer side of the thigh

It can lead to patella maltracking, where the kneecap doesn’t glide properly as the knee moves which can lead to a whole range of knee and kneecap problems.

Tightness in the ITB can also irritate the hip and knee bursa, small fluid filled sacs that provide cushioning between the Iliotibial Band and the bones underneath, causing inflammation and pain.

The most common issues caused by a tight ITB are:

1) Iliotibial Band Syndrome - Common in long distance runners. Causes pain on the outer side of the knee and thigh.

2) Trochanteric Bursitis - Causing pain and acute tenderness on the outer side of the hip 

ITB tightness can also contribute to a number of different knee problems so iliotibial band stretches is often an important part of rehab, particularly for runners.

How To Stretch The ITB

Stretching the ITB is slightly different from stretching other muscles, as the ITB is a thick, fibrous band rather than an elastic muscle.

Here we will show you how to build up your Iliotibial Band stretches to help relieve hip and knee pain. If you haven't already, visit the knee stretches intro page for information on how to get the best results from iliotibial band stretches.

You will find five different Iliotibial band stretches to choose from here. With each one, the description/pictures show you how to stretch your right ITB. To stretch the left side, just reverse the instructions.

You only need to do one or two of these stretches – choose the iliotibial band stretches that work best for you. To be most effective you need hold each of these stretches for 30 seconds and repeat them 3 times.

Standing IT Band Stretches

1) Basic ITB Stretch

Iliotibial band stretches.  Approved use HEP2go.com

Intro: This is my favourite of all the iliotibial band stretches

Starting Position: Stand upright and cross your right leg behind your left.

Action: Lean slightly forwards and to your left side until you feel  the IT band stretch on the outside of your right leg. Lean on a chair/wall if needed. Hold for 30 secs

Repetition: Repeat 3 times, 2x daily, or before and after exercise

Progression: Place your hands on your head whilst doing this to increase the stretch

2) Wall ITB Stretch

Wall stretch for ITB.  Approved use by www.hep2go.com

Starting Position: Start as with the first exercise but cross your right leg further over behind you to the left. Place your hands on your head or lean on a wall for support ensuring your hands are above your head as this increases the stretch.

Action: Lean to the left whilst gently gliding your hips to the right until you feel the it band stretching. Hold for 30 secs.

Repetition: Repeat 3 times, 2x daily, or before and after exercise

Notes: People often find that they feel more balanced and in control with IT band stretches when they use the wall for balance

ITB Stretches Lying Down

1) Side Lying ITB Stretch

Stretching the ITB by lying on your side.  Approved use by www.hep2go.com

Starting Position: Lie on your left side at the edge of a bed/table with your bottom knee bent

Action: Move your top (right) leg backwards so it hangs down over the edge of the bed. Gradually try and let the right leg drop down more to increase the strength of the IT band stretch. Hold for 30 secs

Repetition: Repeat 3x, 2x daily

Progression: You can increase the intensity of iliobtibial band stretches by using a foam roller. Lie as shown with the roller underneath the area of pain (at a right angle to your body) and as you hold this stretch, gently roll backwards and forwards on the roller.

2) Belt IT Band Stretch

Starting Position: Lie on your back with a belt looped around your right foot

IT band stretches with a belt. Approved use by www.hep2go.com

Action: Bring your right leg straight up and across your body until you feel a stretch on your outer thigh. Hold for 30 secs

Repetition: Repeat 3x, 2x daily

Progression: Increase the it band stretch by turning your foot inwards as you do the exercise

Tips: Keep your hips flat on the bed/table rather than letting them twist up

Assisted Iliotibial Band Stretches

If you find it hard to do Iliotibial band stretches effectively, getting someone to help can make a big difference. They may be able to help you stretch your ITB further than you can on your own.

1) Assisted IT Band Stretch

Getting someone else to help can enable you to stretch your ITB further or more effectively.  Approved use by www.hep2go.com

Starting Position: Lie on your back with your legs straight.

Action: Assistant brings your right leg up and across your body until you feel the it band stretching  on the outer side of your thigh. Hold for 30 secs

Repetition: Repeat 3x, 2x daily

Progression: Increase it band stretches by turning your foot inwards as you do the exercise

Tips: Get someone to put gently pressure through your hips to keep them still

What Next?

ITB tightness is often accompanied by buttock tightness and weakness. Visit the glute stretches and knee strengthening exercises sections for more exercises that may help.

For top tips on getting the best out of iliotibial band stretches, including quick tests to tell if your muscles are tight and how to get the best results for the least effort, visit the knee stretches overview.

Often, there will be tightness in more than one muscle – find the best stretches for tight quads, hamstring, calves and glutes muscles to make sure you are getting maximum benefit from these iliotibial band stretches for your knee. 

  1. Knee Pain Guide
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  3. Knee Exercises
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  5. Stretches
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Page Last Updated: 27/9/18
Next Review Due: 27/9/20


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