8 Yoga Poses and Stretches for a Tight IT Band

Get out your foam rollers and lacrosse balls—we're talking about the IT band.

Just kidding. You won’t need those two torture devices.

Why is it when we have tightness or irritation in our outer hip or knee, our assumption is often that it's our IT band, and rolling is the answer? Using rollers and balls can help, but don't forget about functional fitness and yoga.

Pain and irritation in the IT band are usually caused by one of two things:

First, training too much, too quickly. We’ve all fallen victim to this at some point, whether it was training for a marathon, century ride, triathlon, or coming back from a running hiatus. We believe more is better, so we pile on the miles in the hopes of increasing endurance, speed and fitness. The result is an angry hip or knee.

The second cause is general tightness in the band itself caused by lack of flexibility in the surrounding muscles. When we think about the major muscles attached to this thick band of fibers, we think thighs and butt (or if we want to be a little more proper, quadriceps and glutes).

Our quads and glutes attach to the IT band to coordinate muscle function and stabilize the knee as we walk, run, cycle or engage in other forms of exercise. Over time, when we don’t stretch, those muscles become tight. That tightness begins to pull on the band, and from there, pain is born.

So what do we do to stop and prevent that pain?

First, ease up on the miles. Substitute a running day for a cross training day. Not only will you gain strength, but you will also be able to ramp up the mileage slowly without sacrificing your training. Next, try practicing yoga.

The physical practice of yoga is designed, in part, to lengthen and stretch the muscles to increase mobility and improve movement patterns. In addition to being simple, accessible and very effective, these poses will help maintain mobility in the body, which is critical for optimal performance.

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