The IT band or the iliotibial band is a band of fibrous tissue that runs from the hips to the knees and along the lateral aspect of the upper leg. The IT band is very essential for the stabilization of the knee during running and walking. Friction on the IT band may cause inflammation and subsequently lateral knee pain. Protecting your IT band is synonymous to preserving the maximum motion of the knee joint and a pain-free movement. To protect your IT band from injury, here are the important tips to help you protect the fibrous tissue on your leg:
• Employ yoga postures for the IT band
Yoga has been very helpful in strengthening and increasing the flexibility of the muscles. There are certain yoga positions that specifically cater to the IT band such as:
• Pigeon pose
The pigeon pose or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is a yoga pose that helps open the hips and relieves tension on tight IT band. Employ this pose by extending your other leg backwards while seated on a yoga mat. Place your other leg in front and flex inward so that the foot touches your lower abdomen. Place your hands at your lower back to support your body. Maintain the position for ten breaths and reverse the position of the legs.
• Double Pigeon
Agnistambhasana or double pigeon pose helps strengthen the IT band as well as the other muscles on the legs. Sit on the mat and assume a tailor sitting position with the right leg on top of the left leg in a parallel manner. Bend forward and use the arms to support the body in front.
• Rotated triangle
The rotated triangle or Parivrtta Trikonasana is a considerably difficult yoga pose, but it is also one of the most effective poses for the IT band. Stand with left leg about three feet behind the right leg. Reach the floor with the left arm as you raise the right arm straight towards the ceiling. Reverse the position after counts of 10 breaths.
• Employ self massage
Self massage is a good way to protect your IT band before and after each activity involving the legs. Massage the lateral aspect of the thighs with a massage roller or a massage stick. This will help maintain firmness of the IT band while preventing tightness.
• Train moderately
Soft tissue injuries are commonly the result of overuse injuries. In activities such as running, climbing, squats, softball, soccer, rowing, dancing, skating, bowling, wrestling, cycling, tennis, basketball and others, the key to protecting your IT band is to do every training in moderation and never increase the intensity very early.
• Perform warm up and cool down exercises adequately
Warm up and cool down exercises are essential steps in training. Failure to do so adequately can put tension on the IT band, which can lead to tightness, pain and swelling.
• Use supportive training shoes
A common cause for IT band syndrome is the under pronation of the foot, which prevents the weight from being distributed on the feet. Due to this, the muscles on the lower and upper legs compensate giving tension on the IT band. To protect your IT band, use supportive shoes and not any kind of regular shoes.
The IT band is commonly neglected as compared to other muscle groups in the legs, but IT band syndrome can be one of the most debilitating musculoskeletal injuries because of significant pain. Employ the above measures to help protect your IT band and prevent injury.