Iliotibial Band or IT Band

MUSCLE OF THE MONDAY: Iliotibial Band or IT Band*

*Yes, I realize the IT Band is NOT a muscle. It does not contract like a muscle, it is made up of a connective tissue called fascia. But it is a booger of a problem child (very technical term) with it’s surrounding muscles.

PRIMARY ACTIONS: There are not any actions per se since the ITB is not a muscle however it is good to know the surrounding muscles to assess which one might be creating the pain. The lateral quadriceps, lateral hamstrings, the gluteus maximus, and the tensor fascia lata (TFL) all have a facial connection to the IT Band.

CHRONIC PAIN CONNECTIONS: Unfortunately there are many. Outer knee pain is the primary complaint but hip pain is also a symptom of adhesion problems with the IT Band. By “adhesion problems” I mean that this band of fascia acts like FLY PAPER adhering to the muscles alongside it when there are strength imbalances or flexibility problems with said muscles. These adhesions affect the muscle function.
Majority opinion states that this causes tightening of the IT Band which creates friction at the lateral femoral epicondyle (outer boney part of the thigh bone) however it is now debated if that is the SOURCE of the problem.

PAIN RELIEF: While the current popular philosophy involves “steamrolling” the ITB with a foam roller, in my opinion, pain relief may be more quickly found in creating more separation between the ITB and surrounding muscles as well as increasing the strength and stability of the hip and/or lower leg muscles.

Because there are so many possibilities of where the SOURCE of the pain might be, it is important to get an educated physical assessment to ensure you don’t waste your time and money continuing to re-treat a SYMPTOM.

To book an appointment with me in the Denver area please visit and click on Contact for my phone number.


3 thoughts on “Iliotibial Band or IT Band

  1. Good explanation of the ITB and its importance. Especially appreciated your suggestion that a “symptom” fix, otherwise known as a “quick fix” might not be the best route to follow. The ITB is rarely a cause of anything, usually a victim.

    ITB pain in the outer leg and calf is familiar to runners, serious hikers or walkers. That's probably because most of us are not balanced in our muscle use.

    Keep up the good work and sound physiological explanations to your readers.

    Bill Boland

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