If you’re a runner or athlete you’ve probably hear all about your IT band and this is what a chiropractor wants you to know! The iliotibial (IT) band is a thick and expansive band of tissue that extends from the thigh down past the knee and attaches first to the femur (thigh bone) and ultimately to the tibia (shin bone). It extends from the top of the thigh to the outside of the knee. When you flex or stand up, the IT band tightens. This helps you keep your legs straight, allowing the thigh muscles to relax. When this band of tissue gets thick and tight, this leads to IT band syndrome.
When you bend and extend your leg, this band moves over the outer lower edge of your thighbone. With repeated bending and extending of the knee, this movement of the iliotibial band may irritate nearby tissues, causing pain.
Even though anyone can develop IT band syndrome it is most common in athletes, especially distance runners, or those new to exercise. Here are some of the important things a chiropractor wants you to know about your IT band:
What Are the Symptoms of IT Band Syndrome?
- Pain at the knee or hip, often at both locations
- Knee pain that worsens during or after activities such as running, climbing stairs, walking an incline
- Pain that restricts range of motion
- A throbbing, stabbing, or snapping sensation felt at the outside of the thigh, hip or knee
Causes of IT Band Syndrome
There can be a variety of causes for IT band syndrome. The pain may result directly from friction as the IT band moves over the lower outer edge of the thighbone. This may cause inflammation in the bone, tendons, and small, fluid-filled sacs in the area. The IT band may also abnormally compress the tissue beneath it, causing pain.
Common causes of IT band syndrome include:
- Wearing worn out running shoes
- Running on uneven or downhill terrain
- Running in cold weather
How Chiropractic Treatment Can Help IT Band Syndrome?
A chiropractor is a great place to get help treating your IT band pain. They offer natural and holistic treatments in addition to rehabilitative exercises that will help reduce the pain in the affected area and also strengthen the muscles and tendons surrounding the IT band.
Some treatments a chiropractor may use include dry needling, scraping or active release treatments to help reduce the inflammation of the IT band. In addition, manual therapy can also be used to make sure the hip, thigh and knee are in proper alignment.
One of the best things a chiropractor can include in someone’s treatment plan is a series of rehabilitative exercises that will help strength the surrounding muscles and tendons. By doing this, you are helping reduce stress on the IT band and correcting any movement intolerances.
WARNING: Do NOT Stretch Your IT Band
One of the biggest misconceptions we hear is that you should foam roll your IT band if it is feeling tight. However, we are here to tell you that this is a myth and it will NOT work the way you think it will. Here’s what a chiropractor wants you to know about stretching your IT band:
Even though the connective tissue is elastic, it is nearly impossible to stretch or “roll out”. Fun fact: it takes approximately 2,000lb of weight to even lengthen the IT band only 1%. The IT band cannot be lengthened like muscles are able to.
This is why instead of stretching your IT band, we recommend implementing mobility exercises and stretches for the surrounding muscles. This includes:
- Warm up and cool down with every workout.
- Do mobility exercises for the ankles, knees and hips.
- Foam roll only the surrounding muscles (quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors).
This is another reason it’s super helpful to work with a chiropractor to put a treatment plan together so that you are able to find the best combination of rehabilitative and strengthening exercises to reduce pain and prevent further injury.
At-Home Exercises and Stretches You Can Try For Your IT Band
In addition to working with a chiropractor, you can also implement at-home exercises. Try these 4 exercises at home to help prevent IT band syndrome and knee injury. These exercises will help strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and quads which can help prevent IT band pain.
1. Side Bridge with Elevated Leg
2. “Triple Threat” Hamstring Curls
3. Side Resisted Bulgarian Split Squats
4. Running Man
We recommend 2 sets of each exercise for 10-15 reps each.
Why Combine Chiropractic Treatment and Rehabilitative Exercises
A combined approach of using both chiropractic treatments and rehabilitative exercises will not only provide pain relief but will allow a patient to sustain their results. The goal of including rehab exercises into a treatment plan is to improve the strength, flexibility and mobility of the muscles associated with and surrounding the areas of pain. By doing this, you are helping prevent further injury or recurring injury from happening again. As mentioned before, the goal is to always find the root cause of the issue, but not only identifying it, but working to correct it. For more details about why this proven method of treatment works, check out this blog post here!
Get Treated at Kaizo Health
Our goal at Kaizo Health is to always get you back to feeling 100%. Not only will our doctors provide treatment to help you be pain-free, but we also have a dedicated team that will work with you and your insurance to make sure you get the most from your benefits so that you can experience relief for as little cost to you as possible. If you are ready to experience relief from the pain, make an appointment to see us now.
At Kaizo Health, our world-class team of chiropractors in Rockville, MD; Landover, MD; Fort Washington, MD; and Fairfax, VA, practices an evidence-based approach combining chiropractic care and guided, individualized rehabilitative exercises prescription. We provide the treatment and resources you need to recover your health and strength as best-in-class, state-of-the-art chiropractors. We are here to help! In the meantime, make sure that you check out our blog for more information on the chiropractic field, as well as our free virtual self-assessment chiropractic web app here.