A recent research report suggests that for relief of Iliotibial (IT) Band pain, strengthening the hips trumps stretching the IT band. The iliotibial band is a strong, thick band of fibrous tissue that runs along the outside of the leg. The IT band starts at the hip and runs along the outer thigh and attaches on the outside edge of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee joint. The band works with the quadriceps (thigh muscles) to provide stability to the outside of the knee joint during movement.
The study published in the Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine included nine runners experiencing IT band pain. They were provided an IT band stretch, hip-strengthening work and an IT band foam roller protocol. By the end of the study, the runners were experiencing less pain, but the improvement did not seem to come from stretching the IT band.
If the hip musculature is weak the following exercises could help:
Single-leg-stand hip abduction hold. Place right leg on a yoga block or step. Standing erect and countering other body movement, abduct left leg away from midline. Hold for 3 seconds and slowly return to start. Perform 5 repetitions.
Single-leg-stand knee and hip extension with abduction. Tie one end of light-resistance tubing to doorknob, and loop other end around right ankle. Stand to right of attachment on yoga block with left leg, making sure there is enough tension against right leg. Tube should pull leg into hip and knee flexion and into slight adduction. Maintain sagittal plane, allowing hip and knee to flex without allowing knee to move toward midline. Hold for 2 seconds, return to start and hold leg in extension for 3 seconds. Perform 5 repetitions.
Supine hip/knee 90-degree external rotation. Tie one end of light-resistance tubing to doorknob, and loop other end around right ankle. Lie supine with right leg closest to door. Keep left leg extended while flexing right knee to 90 degrees and keeping right hip flexed until posterior superior iliac spine makes contact with floor. Bring right foot across midline of body toward left hip. Hold for 3 seconds and return to start. Perform 8 repetitions.
Resources: IDEA Fitness Journal