Yoga has many functions but can it help with IT band syndrome?
Many are attracted to the practice due to the benefits of becoming more limber, strong, and calm. Yoga also has a healing quality to it.
Minor injuries, general soreness, and even some chronic physical issues can be addressed with a consistent yoga practice.
So, what about the IT band? Can yoga help with IT Band Syndrome?
Let’s discuss some common questions about the IT band to learn how yoga can help with this condition.
- 1 What is the IT Band?
- 2 What is IT Band Syndrome?
- 3 What Does Yoga Do?
- 4 How Does Yoga Help the IT Band?
- 5 What Yoga Poses Help with IT Band Syndrome?
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 Related Questions:
What is the IT Band?
Lots of references are made to the IT band, but what is it exactly. It is an abbreviation for an iliotibial band, which is a thick fascial band of tissue that resembles a tendon.
Fascia is the “webbing” or connective tissue throughout the body that quite literally holds you together. In particular, the fascia holds your vital organs in place and contributes to stabilizing your joints and ligaments.
The IT band is located along the outside of your outer thigh. It is connected to the top of the pelvis and ends at the shin bone. This long thick band has the function of protecting and supporting the outer portion of your leg.
More specifically, it keeps your hips and knees stable. Because of the fibrous nature of the band and because it gets so much use in everyday movement, it has a tendency to shorten.
When the IT band is tighter than usual, this may limit mobility and range of motion in your hips and legs.
What is IT Band Syndrome?
Overuse of most body parts can result in wear and tear in that area.
If the IT is overused, it can lead to pain in the outer portion of the knee. This is a condition called IT Band Syndrome.
This can be due to excessive running, cycling, or other strenuous, repetitive use of this tendon.
The pain in the knee is a result of the IT band getting tight or inflamed. When the tendon stiffens, it shortens and creates friction along the outside of the knee when it bends.
Pain may also occur in the hip. The good news is that the IT band can withstand healthy stretching and other therapeutic treatments to loosen it up to reduce pain and regain mobility throughout the hip and knee joints.
What Does Yoga Do?
Practicing yoga has been known to help regain flexibility and strength in certain areas of the body.
Moving yoga practice involves manipulating the body into postures that can release and stretch tight muscles. Yoga can build strength in weaker areas of the body.
A consistent yoga practice will help one gain more mobility and greater functionality throughout the body.
In addition to these physical benefits of the practice, yoga further calms the mind and body to release tensions that often restrict fluid movement and thought.
Can practicing yoga help with a condition like IT Band Syndrome?
How Does Yoga Help the IT Band?
There are several ways in which yoga can help IT Band Syndrome.
1. Vinyasa Flow
Vinyasa Flow refers to the style of yoga where you are in constant motion in class. That is, you move fluidly from pose to pose through carefully choreographed sequences.
This results in proper blood flow and internal heat so the body can move with ease. When there are sufficient blood and oxygen flow throughout the body, it allows your muscles to stretch.
Improved mobility in the joints and ligaments are also results of a consistent vinyasa yoga practice.
This can ease the stress of a tightly bound IT band, thereby reducing the symptoms of IT Band Syndrome.
2. Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is another style of practice that is growing in popularity due to its healing qualities.
In a Yin Yoga class, the focus is to disengage muscles for them to relax.
Further, when your body is situated into specific yoga poses, it creates a further release of fascial tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints. These are the connective components of the body that hold a lot of tension and stress.
If not manipulated safely to unbind, then the connective tissue remains tense.
Yoga practices, like Yin Yoga, are designed to release connective tissue, including the IT band, to regain flexibility and mobility.
What Yoga Poses Help with IT Band Syndrome?
A yoga pose that you can perform to help reduce the symptoms of IT Band Syndrome is a variation of Standing Forward Fold. In this posture, you simply fold at the hips to touch your toes.
This places a decent stretch along with the hamstrings, another muscle group that tends to stiffen. But if you want to target the outer portion of the thighs, then try this alternative version of the pose.
Standing Forward Fold Variation
Stand tall at the top of your yoga mat with your feet about hip-distance apart. This will create alignment and balance in the lower half of your body. Cross your left foot over the other.
Inhale and raise both arms overhead to lengthen your torso. As you exhale and with a slight bend in your knees, slowly fold forward until you’re able to touch your toes. (Or use the seat of a chair or a yoga block to support your body if you do not fold all the way over.)
With your leg crossed over the other and while in a forward bend, this creates a stretch along the outside of your thighs. Hold the posture up to twenty breaths or more.
The longer you’re able to hold the position, the more likely this tight band can begin the process of release. After you have completed this first side, practice the pose again with the right leg crossed over the left.
Add this forward fold variation to your vinyasa yoga routine, and over time you’ll experience less tension, increased flexibility, and improved mobility in your joints.
Cow Face Pose
Another yoga posture that can release tension in your IT band is a position that can be practiced in Yin Yoga. It is a variation of Cow Face Pose while using two yoga blocks for added support. Here is how to get into the position.
Start by coming to your hands and knees. Slide your left knee to your left wrist. Then move it over, so it is between your two hands. Lift your right knee from the ground in order to swing your left foot over to the right side of your yoga mat. Now tuck your right knee directly behind the left knee and swing that foot toward the left side of your mat.
In this position, you have crossed your legs (much like the above-featured pose) and created a space between your feet behind you. Slowly sit down into that space.
If you’re unable to come all the way to the floor, place a yoga block behind you to sit on. As you sit back, you will feel the stretch in the outer hips and thighs. Hold the position for several minutes to allow these tense areas to further loosen.
To make this more of a Yin Yoga posture, fold forward over your knees. You can rest your forehead on another block or folded blanket. The intention is to relax fully into the pose, disengaging your muscles.
Hold the posture for 5 to 7 minutes. The long hold in this position ensures the connective tissue release that is common practice in a Yin Yoga practice.
When you have completed the pose on the first side, be sure to practice the posture on the other side.
If you have symptoms of IT Band Syndrome or experience tight outer thighs, glutes, and hips, then a yoga practice can be effective in regaining the functionality in your body that you desire.
As described, both Cow Face Pose and Standing Forward Fold provide muscle release that assists in loosening a tight IT band. As it relaxes, the tendon can work more efficiently without causing friction in the knee and hip joints that cause pain.
Practice these poses before or after your cycle or run to maintain healthy joints and IT band.
1. Should I continue to exercise if I have IT Band Syndrome?
It is suggested that you take a break from your regular exercise routine to treat any health condition to reduce further injury.
Try a gentle yoga practice, the suggested poses in this article, and other treatments before returning to your full exercise regimen.
As symptoms decrease and fade completely, gradually ease back into your routine.
2. Even after practicing these poses and the pain persists, what should I do?
If you continue to experience pain in your joints related to IT Band Syndrome, it is recommended that you seek medical assistance to properly diagnose and care for persistent joint pain.