“Fishing largely consists of not catching fish; failure is as much a part of the sport as knee injuries are of football.” – Robert Hughes
Although most of us probably do not fish nor play much football, knee injuries and knee pain can be a significant part of our lives. And not a part that we would choose to have.
John Hopkins Medicine points out that, the most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee. Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.
And the Mayo Clinic and others remind us that knee pain can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease. Examples include heavy physical activity, lack of use, injuries such as sprains or strains, sitting in a constrained area, or sitting on knees for a prolonged period.
One of the methods for relieving various types of knee pain is to address the iliotibial, or IT, band of the leg.
Considering the IT Band and Knee Pain
The IT (iliotibial) band is a thick, fibrous band of tissue that is located along the outside of the leg. It begins at the hip and extends down to the outer side of the shinbone just below the knee joint. The function of the IT band is to work with the muscles of the thigh to provide support to the outside of the knee joint.
In many knee pain situations, stretching exercises that target the IT band can bring knee pain relief. In addition, these various exercises can also be utilized to help prevent further knee pain.
A common condition that shows up as pain located on the outside of the knee is known as IT band syndrome.
In this instance, the pain typically worsens as a person runs, cycles, or performs other strenuous movements or exercises that require repetitive bending and straightening (flexing and extending) of the knee joint. Along with pain, a person suffering from IT band syndrome may experience a sensation of popping, clicking, or snapping on the outside of the knee joint.
Some typical exercises or treatments for IT bands often fail to achieve any substantive results. These include lateral lunges and foam rolling on the region.
As Brian Gurney, DPT, CSCS, trainer and physical therapist explains,
“People usually come in with IT bad syndrome when they lack hip extension, and when you lost that hip extension, it’s a chain reaction of events that happen. It’s harder for your glutes to engage. You start to push more weight to the outside of your leg to compensate. The IT bad and calves get tight, and your whole leg mechanics change.”
The good news is that there are stretching exercises that can help to alleviate knee and hip pain caused by IT band issues.
Three Great IT Band Stretching Exercises for Knee Pain
While there are several exercises and stretches that can help with knee and hip pain, there are a few that have been shown to be quite effective.
Supine IT Band Stretch
Start by lying flat on your back with knees bent at about a 45 degree angle. Lift your right leg over your left knee, hooking your right ankle around your left knee. Now use your right leg to pull the left leg down to your right side. Draw it down as far as you can and then hold that position for 30 seconds.
Repeat the same movements with the opposite leg and repeat each side five times.
Side Lying IT Band Stretch
First lie on your left side with your legs together and bent at a 45 degree angle with your knees in front of you. Keep your knees bent while you move your right leg behind you and drop it down until you feel a noticeable stretch along the outside of your thigh. Hold that position for 30 seconds then bring your leg back to the start position.
Roll over and then do the same stretching motion for opposite side. Repeat the motions five times.
This exercise is performed standing and stretches the tensor fascia latae, the muscle that runs along the hip on the outside of your leg.
Starting in a standing position with your feet relatively close together, cross the injured leg behind the other leg and lean toward the uninjured side. Stretch with both arms held over your head. Then bend to the side to bring your arms down and touch your ankle on the injured side.
Hold this position for 15 seconds. Repeat this 10 times and perform the exercise three time a day, if possible.
In addition to the stretches, the single, or one leg squat is a great stretching exercise for the IT band. However, if the pain in your knee is aggravated by this maneuver it may be best to hold off until your knee has fully recovered and consider integrating the one leg squat into your future exercise regimen.
Pain and Performance Solutions Can Help with Your Knee Pain Issues
IT band stretches can work great for alleviating various types of knee pain. However, if you are suffering from recurring or chronic knee pain that isn’t “going away” despite your best treatment efforts, your next step should be Pain and Performance Solutions.
Whether you’ve been suffering from knee pain for a long time or you’ve realized that your pain that is not letting up, we4 invite you to give us a call. Your knee pain relief can begin once we’re able to gain an in-depth understanding of when and how your knee pain started.
During your first appointment, we will work with you to learn about your present symptoms as well as any history of discomfort.
At Pain and Performance Solutions we specialize in bringing relief from chronic joint pain with therapies such as Active Release Techniques® (ART®) and Anatomy in Motion (AiM). And this begins to happen once we understand where your pain started. Often this can mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.
Don’t simply ignore your knee pain and hope it will just go away. Let us help. Contact us today at 707-636-4404 or book an appointment online to start your recovery process.