5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your IT Band

Sep 20, 2021

You don’t have to suffer an injury or undergo surgery to benefit from physical therapy. In fact, there are many reasons why people see a physical therapist, including pain with certain activities or chronic pain. People experience IT band issues from everyday movements, personal fitness habits, and overuse of certain muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues in the legs. There are many reasons why you might develop pain with your IT band, and a physical therapist can help you. Whether you are a runner, a cyclist, sit for long periods of time, or have knee arthritis, seeing a physical therapist can help reduce IT band pain and help you move through life without pain.

What Is the IT Band?

The IT band is known as the iliotibial band and is a type of soft tissue that runs along your outer thigh. This piece of connective tissue, known as fascia, connects your hip, knee, and shinbone. That means your IT band is involved in movements that extend, turn, and rotate your hip. The IT band also supports the knee by stabilizing the side of your knee cap and helping to protect your outer thigh muscle. IT band issues can affect anyone, though there are risk factors for different types of conditions and injuries that impact the IT band. In order to determine what is causing you pain in your IT band, your doctor will want to perform a physical examination and talk with you about your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor may also want to run diagnostic imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI to get clearer images of the affected area.

Here are five things you didn’t know about your IT band.

Knee and hip pain can signal IT band issues

The IT band runs from your hip through the outer side of your thigh to your shin. This piece of connective tissue impacts movement and stability in your hip, thigh, knee, and shin. People are more familiar with IT band pain occurring in the outer thigh. However, pain in the hips or knees can also signal an issue with the IT band. IT band issues tend to develop as overuse injuries, meaning repetitive motions cause pain, tightening, and strain on this large piece of tissue. That means you may experience pain in multiple parts of the hip and leg that depend on the IT band for movement and stability.

Poor flexibility can lead to IT band pain.

The IT band can become tight due to poor flexibility, especially in the hip or thigh. Weak gluteal muscles can also contribute to poor flexibility and compromising your mobility. When the IT band is tightened, it can restrict certain movements and make them more painful. Tightness in the IT band can be caused by limited mobility, like sitting for long periods of time or by neglecting to stretch before and after physical activity.

IT band pain can disrupt your sleep.

If you have IT band pain, then you may experience pain in your hip, thigh, and knee. This type of pain can impact your quality of sleep by keeping you up at night or preventing you from getting comfortable for a good night’s sleep. Side sleepers with IT band pain may find one side more painful and uncomfortable to sleep on than the other. Trying different sleeping positions can help to alleviate pain so you are able to rest.

Improper footwear can cause IT band pain.

Whether high heels or faulty orthotics, improper footwear may be the culprit for your IT band pain. Certain footwear can cause you to carry yourself differently and may put too much pressure or strain on parts of the body, like your glutes and hips. This can lead to pain along your outer hips and thighs and along the outside of your knees.

IT band syndrome is common in runners.

IT band syndrome is one type of health condition that involves the IT band. Both amateur and professional runners have been diagnosed with IT band syndrome and may benefit from physical therapy to help reduce the tightness in this piece of tissue while restoring and improving healthy functioning.

Physical Therapy for Rehabilitation & Injury Prevention

Physical therapy is a beneficial option for rehabilitation and injury prevention for a wide variety of IT band issues. If you are experiencing IT band pain or discomfort along your outer hips, thighs, and knees, then visit a physical therapist at AICA Orthopedics in Marietta.


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