Getting to Know Your IT Band

Massage and your IT Band

As we head into the new year, many of you will begin to set new goals for yourselves.  Whether it’s running a 5k, joining a gym or training for your first half marathon, Massage Hope is here to help! We’ve decided to introduce you to some of the major muscle groups in your legs, starting with the infamous IT Band (Iliotibial band).   

The IT band is an area that often gives athletes trouble, particularly runners, and is its usually an overuse injury.  Your IT band is a ligament that runs on the lateral (outside) side of your thigh from the top of the pelvis (iliac crest) to the shin (tibia). It is connected to your hip flexor (TFL - tensor fascia lata) and butt (gluteal) muscles.  It works with other major muscles of the hip, in order to flex, move out (abduct) and medially rotate the thigh at the hip joint.  When the TFL and glutes are chronically tight, it can put tension on the IT band and lead to IT Band Friction Syndrome or pain, which is highly common in runners.  (Muscolino, The Muscular System Manual)

IT Band Friction Syndrome is often gradual in onset and the result of repetitive flexion and extension of the knee like that found in running and cycling. The pain will be localized to the outside of the knee and feel like an aching pain that gets worse with activity.  If you suspect you have IT band pain your Massage Therapist can do some tests via palpation and movement to see if IT band friction syndrome is the culprit. These tests can be done on the table during your massage session, so no need to worry.  Massage can help to reduce tightness in the TFL or glutes and can free up adhesions in between the IT Band and the quadricep muscles which could be worsening the pain. We can also do some assisted stretching in your session and give you specific stretches to do at home to help out further.  Other ways to relieve the pain involve adjusting your gait and the surface which you run on.     (Lowe, Orthopedic Assessment in Massage Therapy, p112-13)


As always if you have questions about this topic or Sports Massage in general, feel free to call us at 703-858-2323 or email them to  Thank You for reading!!


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