If you run or bike, you most likely have tight IT bands. The Iliotibial Band is the connective tissue on the outside of our thigh, connecting the hip muscles to the lower leg. Knee pain is often caused by tight IT bands since they’re also responsible for supporting the extension of our knee. I have yet to meet a person that can foam roll their IT bands without wincing. Foam rolling and stretching our IT bands regularly can prevent inflammation and chronic knee pain. Do these 5 IT band stretches 2-3 times a week. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds on each leg and work up to one minute.
Bent Knee Twisted Forward Fold– These next two stretches are yoga poses that will target both your hamstrings and IT bands. Stand with your legs hip distance apart in parallel. Fold forward with your legs straight, reaching your hands to the ground. Do your best to lengthen your spine. If you cannot touch the ground, use a prop like a yoga block to place your hands on at a comfortable height. Bend your left knee. Keeping your left hand on the ground, rotate your body to the right as you reach your right hand straight up to the sky. Gaze is up. Breathe through the pose and repeat on the other side.
Half Splits with Twist-Kneel on the ground and straighten your right leg out in front of you with your foot flexed. Lengthen your spine as you fold forward placing your hands on the ground on either side of your right leg. Again, if this is not possible for you, use a prop to support your hands. Repeat the same twist as above keeping your left hand on the floor and rotating your torso to your right. Extend your right hand up to the sky and try to hold your hips square by keeping even pressure on your right leg as you twist. Hold and repeat on the other leg.
Seated Cross Body Tree– This is a version of a traditional Pilates move that also stretches your hamstrings. Sit on the ground cross legged with your right leg on top of your left. Bend your right knee and pull your thigh into your body so that you can hold onto the sole of your foot with your hands. Keeping your back as straight as possible and both hips on the floor, straighten your right leg out in front of you. Take your left hand and place it on the outside of your right foot. Place your right hand on the ground beside you for support. Bring your right leg across your body for the IT band stretch. You may have to adjust the height of your leg to feel the stretch. Hold and then repeat on the other leg.
Lying Down Leg Across Body (with strap or band)- Similar to the seated cross body tree, this move is done lying down on the ground. You can start with a strap or exercise band for assistance. With your left leg extended long, bend your right leg into your chest and place your right foot in the center of the strap. Keeping your hips down, straighten your right leg up to the sky. Adjust the placement of your hands on the strap according to your own level of flexibility. Bring both ends of the strap together in your hands as you lower your leg across your body and down to the left. Keep both shoulders on the ground. Repeat on the other leg.
Side Lying IT Stretch– This stretch targets the part where your IT band crosses your knee. Lie down on your right side to stretch the left IT band first. Prop your head up on your right hand. Bend your top leg and hold onto your ankle for a quad stretch. Bend your bottom leg and place your foot on top of your left knee. As you continue to pull back with your left leg, gently pull your top knee down with your right foot. Repeat on the other side.
How often do you stretch your IT bands?
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Video: Crystal Chin