3 Ways to Conquer IT Band Pain

How to Stretch the IT Band

Another way to keep your IT band in check is to stretch. Here are two of the best IT band stretches:

1. Sit on the floor with your palms flat on the floor, spaced a few inches behind your butt. Bend your knees up and place the soles of your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Take your left foot and place your left ankle across your right knee. Drop your knee toward the floor, rotating at the hip in a sort of half-butterfly position. Hold the stretch for at least 25 seconds, and gradually try to get your knee closer to the ground. Repeat with the other leg.

More: 5 Injury Prevention Stretches for Runners

2. Take your left leg, bent at the knee, and place it in front of you. Take your right leg and straighten it as best as you can behind you. You'll be in a semi-split position, except your front leg is bent. You might need to drop your knee, bend your torso forward and use your arms for support. You want to feel the stretch in the outside of your hip area, so lean forward and slightly to the left as you hold this stretch. Hold for at least 25 seconds. Repeat with the right leg in front.

The IT band, once irritated, can be a chronic and annoying bugger to deal with, so if it's not causing you problems yet, remember that the best way to avoid an injury is to be proactive.

More: How to Aggressively Treat IT Band Syndrome

Treat a Sore IT Band

If you're suffering from IT band issues, stretching and gentle foam rolling can help. Just don't overdo it. You don't want to massage the IT band too much—definitely no more than 15 minutes once a day—and you don't want to go past the point of discomfort. If you overdo it, you'll only cause more inflammation of the tissues.

Follow the same rules for stretching: Go just to the point of slight discomfort. The best way to stretch is to hold it for a minute or two, and go a little deeper over time as the muscle relaxes.

Once you've finished foam rolling and stretching, ice is your friend. Place an ice pack on the sore IT band for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, be smart. It's better to take a shorter break sooner once you feel pain or prolonged soreness in the IT band, rather than be forced into a longer break later. If you shouldn't run because of an IT band injury, don't underestimate the power of cross-training.

More: 7 Cross-Training Exercises for Runners

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