What Are Iliotibial Band Stretches?


Quick Answer

Iliotibial band stretches are exercise routines designed to work up the iliotibial band, a band of fibrous tissue that runs from the pelvic bone to the knee. Stretching the iliotibial band is important for people who experience knee pain caused by inflammation of the tissue, which is called iliotibial band syndrome.

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Full Answer

Iliotibial band stretches allow the fibrous tissue to loosen up and avoid friction against the lateral epicondyle of the femur, thereby preventing the tissue from inflammation or irritation. The iliotibial band is activated when the person is running, hiking or riding a bike, so it is important to perform stretching prior to these activities.

An example of an iliotibial band stretch involves standing upright and crossing the left leg over the right. While leaning on a wall or table, the person doing the exercise should lean the upper body forward and slightly tilted to the left side until a stretching sensation is felt along the outer side of the right leg. The stretch may be held for about 30 seconds and then done similarly on the other leg. Other iliotibial band stretches involve lying down, using stretchable belts or asking assistance from a fitness instructor or physical therapist.

Aside from overuse of the muscle tissue, iliotibial band syndrome may also be caused by abnormalities in the structure of a person's legs or an imbalance in adjacent muscles.

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