What is IT Band Syndrome and How Do We Prevent It?

The IT band or iliotibial band is a thick band of tissue that stretches from our pelvis to our lower knee. Its purpose is to stabilize movements of the knee. If this band becomes too tight or too short, it rubs the leg and causes the knee joint to move out of alignment.

When you have this condition, you will experience pain on the outside of the knee while running. It will start out as a small twinge, but becomes more painful if the problem is not corrected. The pain is usually sporadic—appearing on some runs and not on others.

It is often not felt when you start running but begins to ache after a period of time or distance.  Also, the pain may feel worse when running down hills, but it usually subsides when you stop running.

If you are experiencing pain below or behind the knee cap, you may have runners knee

What causes IT Band Syndrome?

There are a number of causes for iliotibial band syndrome, but the most common is overuse and fatigue.  When this thick band of tissue is overused, it becomes too tight and becomes squeezed against the bone, resulting in pain and the inability to stabilize the entire leg. This is when the stress on the knee joint causes it to go out of alignment causing even more pain and discomfort.

IT band Syndrome

Other possible causes:

  • Weak hip abductors
  • Rapid increase in mileage
  • An inefficient Running posture
  • Not wearing the best running shoes for your feet
  • Running in worn-out shoes
  • Running on circular tracks
  • Running on uneven surfaces
  • Foot pronation
  • Downhill running

What to do when you have IT pain

As soon as you feel the first twinge of pain, take action—don't wait until you have a full-blown injury. Stop or reduce running, avoid hills, and get stretching! 

The IT band doesn't stretch very well as it is not a stretchy tissue. However, stretching the muscles that attach to it, such as the glutes and the tensor fasciae latae (TFL), which is located just in front of the femur, has proven to be very effective. See the video below on how to stretch this area using a foam roller.

An IT Band Compression Strap may help reduce pain and stabilize the leg. 

A deep tissue massage usually helps relieve the tightness and a temporary decrease in the amount of training miles will also speed recovery. Avoid hill training and running on uneven surfaces and circular tracks. Learn How to Use a Foam Roller and give yourself a deep tissue massage.

Active Isolated Stretching may also help speed recovery. 

My experience with IT Band Syndrome

When I trained for my first half marathon, I developed a problem with my iliotibial band. It occurred in the middle of a long run and it was very painful. Fortunately, I took the advice of a fellow runner and stopped running.

It was only a few weeks before the race and I didn't want to risk developing an injury and not being able to enjoy the race. I learned how to stretch the area and did so quite often, and I had a few massage therapy sessions. I believe taking action immediately helped prevent a painful and stubborn injury from developing. I was able to enjoy and complete my first half marathon without any further pain.

It is always wise to listen to our bodies. When they hurt, they are hurting for a reason. We need to listen and take action.

How to stretch the IT Band

Stretching your iliotibial band is a good habit to develop, even if you don't currently feel pain.

Check out this video on how to get a great stretch for this area using a form roller.

What can we learn from this painful experience?

I believe in every experience that we have in life exists an opportunity for learning and growth, especially the most painful ones. If we can uncover what the lesson contains and learn from it, we will not need to repeat the lesson (painful experience). The best way I know to gain this understanding is to sit quietly and clear our minds. Relax and silently ask, "What can I learn from this [experience, pain, injury]?" Then, continue to relax quietly and an answer may come to you in the form of an idea, a connection, a solution, or a concept that you had not thought about previously. 

If you don't receive an understanding right away, don't concern yourself about it. Just stay open to receiving the answer at another time or in another form. Trust that it will come to you and it will. Namaste! 

Back to top of IT Band

Return to Are You Prone to Running Injuries?

Our Running Form Template Can Help You Run More Efficiently!

Instant download!

* indicates required

I promise to keep your email address secure and use it only to send you my newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time!

FTC Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying  purchases.
Learn more.

Loading Comments
#disqus_thread { min-height: 200px; }

Recent Articles

  1. Affirmations Help Runners Achieve Their Goals!

    Oct 02, 22 08:10 AM

    Affirmations Work

    Affirmations are powerful and can work for everyone but they must be done properly. When they don't work, we must find the reason and correct it.

    Read More

  2. How to Relax While Running

    Sep 14, 22 07:07 AM

    How to relax

    Relaxing your body will improve running performance. Tension promotes injuries, draws energy from our bodies, and prevents us from running our best. A relaxed body uses less effort and thus can run f…

    Read More

  3. Finally - a cure for hiccups!

    Aug 30, 22 12:40 PM


    Do you or someone in your family suffer from troublesome hiccups? HiccAway is a drug free, reusable natural cure for hiccups. Works instantly with water!

    Read More

  4. 5 Reasons Runners Need to Meditate!

    Aug 30, 22 04:39 AM


    Meditation improves our health but it also improves running in numerous ways. Find out why runners need to meditate and how you can start your meditation practice today.

    Read More

  5. A Loving Kindness Meditation For Running

    Aug 22, 22 12:28 PM

    Loving Kindness

    Much research has been conducted on the effects of loving kindness meditation on emotional and physical health showing incredible results. Now you can practice while running!

    Read More

  6. An Ancient Technique that Improves Running

    Aug 05, 22 02:21 AM

    Ancient Technique

    Use this technique to develop focus and awareness to improve running. Move more easily and effortlessly.

    Read More

  7. How to Stop a Charley Horse Instantly!

    Jul 28, 22 09:48 AM

    Charley Horse

    Stop a painful charley horse cramp instantly! These painful calf cramps must be stopped immediately to prevent the muscle from becoming sore. Find out how!

    Read More

  8. Make Running in Hot Weather Easier!

    Jun 30, 22 05:54 AM

    Hot Weather

    We can take action to help our bodies feel more comfortable running in the heat and prevent the onset of heat related illnesses!

    Read More

  9. Behavioural Kinesiology Can Help Us Become Stronger Runners

    Jun 18, 22 01:00 PM

    Behavioural Kinesiology

    Run strong with behavioural kinesiology. Use this technique to positively stimulate our muscles to stay strong while running.

    Read More

  10. Is Taking Walk Breaks While Running Cheating?

    May 25, 22 12:24 PM

    Walk Breaks

    Find out why many runners swear by it as the safest and most enjoyable way to build strength and increase endurance.

    Read More