Stretches and Exercises

Graphics of one classic ITBS stretch

My preferred way is to lie on your back:

  • Lie on your back, put your right ankle on the opposite knee.
  • Grab with the left hand to the right foot, and put your right hand on the right knee.
  • Gently pull up and to the left with both hands until you feel a pulling on your right side, any where from your butt and/or hip, down the outside of the right thigh.
  • Changing the direction you pull and the balance of pulling between each hand will change exactly where it's stretched most.
  • Stretch gently for 20-30 seconds on each side.
  • If you want a side-benefit while stretching, try crunching your stomach up while you're pulling your leg!  We could all use stronger abdominal muscles, eh?

To aid this, use get a towel, belt or strap (like a yoga strap). If you're stretching the right side,

  • Take the strap in each hand, with about 2' of strap between your hands
  • Put the right foot on the left knee
  • From left to right, put the strap starting at your left hand under your right foot, then up your lower right leg, ending at the bent knee and to your right hand.
  • Use the strap to pull up and left with, balancing the pressure between each hand.

You can also do the standing version of this stretch, but I think this version (on your back) does a better job, since you're not trying use your ITB for balance while stretching it at the same time.

This is the standing version of the classic ITB stretch. Give it a try.

  • To stretch the IT band of your right leg, stand with your left side facing the wall. Cross your right leg behind your left, while putting your left hand against the wall. Put your weight on the right leg and lean against the wall by pushing your right hip away from the wall. Be sure that your right foot is parallel to the wall during the stretch. You should be able to feel the stretch in your hip and down the IT band (in this case, along the right side of your right leg). Hold for five seconds and do this ten times. For the left leg, do as above, but stand with your right side facing the wall, and put your left leg behind your right.

[From Mimi] My PT showed me several.

  • One is the standard one you always read about (legs crossed, standing etc.)
  • Two others are done lying down. In the first you lie on the left side of the bed to stretch your right leg. Keeping your back flat on the bed, you extend your right leg and cross it over your left (keeping it straight) so it hangs over the side of the bed. You will feel the pull on your ITB esp. near the hip. Go to the other side of the bed to stretch your left.
  • The second is also done lying down. To stretch your right leg you bend it and grab your thigh pushing the bent leg across your left. you can adjust where you feel the stretch (near the knee or the hip) by pushing the knee closer to your head. if this does not make sense let me know and i will try to explain better.
  • The final one is a yoga stretch which i don't know if i can explain. But for me this is the best one, so i'll try. Sit up on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. To stretch your right leg, cross it over your left with your right foot flat on the floor. (so right knee is bent.) Now, here is the hard part. Take your left arm and place it to the left of your right knee and to the right of your left leg, grabbing the left leg below the knee. (Got it???) Now twist your upper body to the right as far as you can, looking over the right shoulder. While you are doing this, you will be stretching your right leg with that left arm that is still holding below the left knee. (Whew!! If this makes no sense, look in a yoga book, its called lion's twist.)

From Bob Hart:

NOTE: All stretches should be gentle. If it hurts, itís wrong. Hold 10-30 seconds. Repeat 2-5 times. Do 1 session/day. The total stretch seconds should be 50-60 . If holding for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times, if holding for 30 seconds, repeat 2 times, etc.

Stretch 1: Inner Thigh/Groin Stretch

Sit on the floor, place the soles of your feet together with your knees pointing outwards. Gently pull your feet towards your groin until a stretch is felt in the groin and inner thigh. Let gravity pull your knees down, don't force them.

Stretch 2: Hamstring Stretch

I was given sheets for four different hamstring stretches and told to pick one. The seated seemed the most convenient. Whichever one you do, be sure to bend at the waist, not your back. In other words when you reach for your foot, arch your back backwards.
Sitting on the floor, straighten your right leg in front of you and tuck your left foot near the groin. Reach with both hands towards your right foot until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh. Reverse legs and repeat.

Stretch 3: Piriformis Stretch

Sitting on the floor, straighten your right leg in front of you and place your left foot, sole on the floor, on the right side of your right knee. Reach your right arm over and to the left of your now vertical left knee, placing your elbow against the outside of your left knee and your hand on (or as close as you can get it) the right knee. (Val is right, this is a tough one to explain :) ). Gently push the bent knee across the body until a stretch is felt in the buttock. Reverse and repeat for the left buttock.

Stretch 4: Tensor Stretch

In a standing position, cross your left leg over the other, with your feet about 1 foot apart. lean to the left until a stretch is felt over the outside of your right hip. I've found that I get a better stretch if I try to keep my shoulders parallel to the ground. Reverse and repeat for the left hip.

Exercise 1: Trunk/Hip Stability - Internal/External rotation

This exercise should be done with ankle weights, 1-5 pounds as tolerated.
Lay on your stomach with a pillow supporting your abdomen, legs straight out and together. Raise one ankle to bend the knee about 90 degrees, sole of foot towards he ceiling. Slowly rotate the bent leg inward and across the other until the hip starts to rise. Hold 10-30 seconds, return to vertical. Then slowly rotate outward until opposite hip starts to rise. Hold 10-30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times. Reverse and rotate other leg.

Bob's Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV. This diagnosis and treatment applies only to me and my medical condition. It is not intended as a diagnosis or treatment for others.

Upper Hamstring and Hip/Gluteous Medius stretch

This is a classic runners' stretch, but is kinda hard to describe.

[Assume for the example, that your right knee is affected.] Sit on the floor and put your left leg out straight. Grab your right ankle leg with your left hand, and put your right hand and forearm around your bent knee. Gently pull the leg as one unit toward your chest until you feel an easy stretch in the back of the upper leg (or the butt). Make sure the leg is pulled as one unit so that no stress is felt on the knee. This is done by pulling more on the ankle than the knee. Hold for 30-60 seconds, and repeat 2-3x daily, 2-3 reps per leg.

I find it's easier to press the ankle by bringing my other knee up under the ankle. It's also easier to hold it this way, as that leg muscle is stronger than your arm that's pulling.

From Sat Jun 01 11:23:33 1996
Newsgroups: rec.running
Subject: Re: HELP!!! ITB (illiotibial band) injury
Date: Sat, 01 Jun 1996 15:23:33 GMT

ITB stretches do work. The easiest (everyone's heard my lecture now on holding stretches for no more than 2 seconds by now) I know of is, for the right leg to lie on your back, take a rope or rolled-up towel or sweatshirt, and move your right leg (straight knee) left across the body, as low as you can and clear the left leg; use the rope to assist at the end. (The left leg should be turned in, e.g. toes pointing at the right-hand wall, and moved to the right; that stabilized the pelvis.)

<on soapbox>
The second MD might have said that ITB stretches don't work because most of the popular ones don't. If you stretch a leg or hip muscle while standing, as most people do, you're most likely using the muscle for postural stabilization while trying to stretch it.
<off soapbox>

Brian P. Baresch, National Sports Massage Team
speaking for myself

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