Jeremy Waite


Stretching advice

Iliotibial Band (ITB) stretch

ITB syndrome is a classic problem encountered by many athletes, especially runners, where tightness in the Iliotibial band causes soreness particularly in the area around the kneecap (often known as runner's knee). This is an area which can be hard to get a focused stretch on, but it is certainly possible. Sports Massage and soft tissue release techniques are also excellent in relieving the problems of ITB syndrome and whilst it can cause some discomfort to receive, the benefits of this type of work by a qualified massage practitioner can be felt very swiftly.

Position and function of the muscle:

The Iliotibial band attaches to and works with the Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) muscle. The TFL itsel attaches to the iliac crest of the pelvis and then joins the other fibres of the ITB which come from the glutes, running down the outside of the leg and knee to attach to the head of the tibia.

The stretch:

When carrying out this stretch have a mental focus that it is the area on the outside of your leg which you are trying to work on. Whilst with this stretch we are primarily focussing on the ITB, it also works very well as a glutes stretch.

To begin the stretch, lie down on your back on a relatively solid surface, with your shoulders square on the ground. Keep both arms spread out on the floor either side of you and cross one leg over the other, rolling up onto your hips and allowing gravity to provide the downward pressure as you push the leg across your body. During the movement keep both legs straight and make sure that your shoulders and arms stay on the ground so that the stretch is focused primarily on your hips and leg and less so on your back (although this stretch does also work the intervetebral muscles) - see top image.

Once you get to the position where you can feel a stretch running down your leg, hold for 15 seconds breathing deeply and then lift the upper leg gently in a direction back across your body for six seconds (effectively contracting the glutes, TFL and ITB) before returning to the stretched position again, repeating 2-3 times. You can also adapt the stretch by bending the knee of the leg which is crossing over, and stretching it further with the aid of the opposite arm – this will create a deeper stretch that works more on the glutes but will still help the ITB - see lower image.

Please note:
- Stretches should only be performed gently, not with any discomfort or pain and only subsequent to a gentle warm up
- When stretching do not bounce or strain into a stretch, increase the pressure slowly to a point where you feel the stretch become active
- Care should be exercised to perform all stretches correctly – if in any doubt please contact a specialist for verification on stretching manoeuvres.

Jeremy Waite works as a Sports Massage Therapist in Berkshire covering areas such as Streatley, Goring, Pangbourne, Wallingford and Reading.

Back to Strengthening and Stretching Exercises

ITB (iliotibial band) stretch

ITB stretch

ITB and glutes stretch

Adapted stretch also working glutes and hip rotators

Contact details:

Jeremy Waite PTS (Dip), MSMA, MISRM
5 Underwood Cottages
The Coombe
Reading, RG8 9RA

Studio: 01491 872556
Mobile: 07827 926123

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