If you have been experiencing pain on the outside of your hip, thigh, or knee, you may have been diagnosed with IT Band Syndrome.
This condition happens when the IT band rubs against other joint and muscular tissues in the hip, thigh, and knee, causing irritation and inflammation, ultimately resulting in pain.
Now, there are a lot of practitioners who will attribute this syndrome to the IT band being too tight.
Trying to “stretch” the IT band and use manual techniques to make it “looser”.
However, the IT band is a tendon, not a muscle.
It is SUPPOSED to be tight.
The IT band will not spontaneously or naturally just become shorter or more restricted.
However, just because this tendon can not itself be shortened or lengthened, does not mean it stays at the same tension.
You see, tendons are attached to muscles.
And muscles have the ability to contract shorter and lengthen longer.
If the muscle attached to the IT band is in spasm or restricted for some other reason, it will pull on the IT band.
The IT band, since it doesn’t really change in length so much, will simply have more tension stored in it.
This makes the band compress other structures in the hip, thigh, and knee.
So, when you move these body parts, the increased tension causes friction over these tissues.
This results in that lateral hip, thigh, and knee pain you may be experiencing.
So, what do we do in order to fix this tension in the IT Band?
We need to normalize the muscles that connect to the IT Band.
These muscles are the Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) and the Gluteus Maximus (Glute Max), both seen above.
If these muscles, which help control and stabilize the hip, are dysfunctional due to muscle spasms or trigger points, they can pull on the IT Band and increase the tension.
The way we start to normalize these tissues is through Soft Tissue Mobilization.
Using a lacrosse ball, massage tool, or percussion gun (or, really, any STM tool, including your hands), apply pressure to the tender spots of these muscles.
After 30-60 seconds, move on to another tender spot on the same muscles.
Spend 5-10 minutes on this, and then see how and if that changes your pain.
Incorporating some stretching techniques for the TFL and Glute Max will also benefit you, but after you perform STM on these muscles.
In the long term, strengthening these muscles along with the glute meds and hip flexors will help keep this “IT Band Syndrome” from ruining your active and healthy life.
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