Functional Anatomy Part 1 – The Illiotibial Band

This series focuses on specific muscles to help you better understand the importance of strengthening or stretching to prevent or heal injuries. We begin with the IT Band, and will continue with Quads in December, Hamstrings in November, Hip Flexors in February and Lower Trapzius in February.

1. Where is this muscle?
It originates at the top of the outside of the hip (anterior superior iliac spine) and inserts below the knee on the outside of your lower leg (lateral chondial of the tibia).

2. What does it do?
This muscle helps with hip flexion, abduction and internal rotation and is often overused when running, biking and skiing.

3. Common injuries?
When this muscle is too tight, it pulls the kneecap to the outside which can cause pain behind the kneecap or on the outside of the lower leg especially when your knee is bending. Strengthening your opposing muscle groups (quads, inner thighs and hamstrings) are important if this muscle starts taking over and causing problems. Illiotibial tract tightness can be very painful or become chronic if not properly rehabilitated which may prevent you from doing your sport of choice.

4. How do you strengthen this muscle?
Side leg lifts or abductions using machines of free weights. Do repetitions of 8-10 to strengthen or 60 seconds to build endurance.

5. How do you stretch this muscle?
This muscle is unique because the belly of the muscle is up near the hip, but much of the muscle is fascia so it is difficult to stretch. To stretch the muscle part, lie on your back with your legs strait. Lift one leg to the roof and let it stretch across the body. You may want to hold onto the outside of your calf to increase the stretch. Hold 30 seconds or approximately 10 breaths. To stretch the fascia, use a foam roller and roll the outside of your leg from the top of your hip to your knee approx 5 times. If it is too uncomfortable, cross your other leg over onto the ground to take some weight off as you roll.
For information specific to this muscle or upcoming muscles in the series, please get in touch. Remember that you should never exercise through pain and of course please play safely and have fun!

Sarah's Active Rehabilitation, One-on-one fitness programs by a practicing Kinesiologist. 250-423-9167,