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Having Knee Pain? Could it be your IT band?

Updated: May 4, 2023

What is the IT Band?

The iliotibial band, or IT band, is a thick, fibrous band of tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh, from the hip to the knee. It plays an important role in running by helping to stabilize the knee joint and provide support to the leg during the running motion.

However, it can also be a source of pain for many runners.

Why the IT band can hurt while running:

When the IT band becomes tight or inflamed, it can cause pain and discomfort in the knee, hip, or thigh. It is called: Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). ITBS is often due to overuse or improper form while running. Too much too soon can cause the band to rub against the bones and tissues in the knee joint.

It is a frication issue!

Other factors that can contribute to IT band pain include: mobility issues (at both or either the hip and knee joint), muscle imbalances & stability, and running form.

How do you know if you are having ITBS?

  • Sharp localized pain in an area about the size of a quarter on the outside of knee.

  • In the early stages it will only hurt while running.

  • Typically no big trauma/injury started it.

  • Hurts worse going down stairs.

  • More sensitive to movement vs loading (running vs. weight training).

  • Once it starts on a run, it gets worse throughout the run.

Screens to test the IT band in runners:

If you're experiencing IT band pain while running, there are several screens & exercises you can do to help alleviate the discomfort and prevent future injuries.

Here are some of the most effective screens to pin point your issues:

  1. 2 screens for compressing the IT band : Ober test & Knee ROM, Hip Internal Compression issues come from 3 main issues; TFL tightness, IT Band immobility, & Limited knee extension.

  2. 2 screens for twisting the IT band: Rotation Screen, & ankle pronation -Twisting issues come from tight glutes & stiff ankles (video here)

How did you do on the screens/tests? Here are some exercises to help the areas you "need to work on" (coming soon)

Here are some of the most effective exercises:

  1. Foam rolling vs Cupping: Foam rolling is a great way to help loosen up tight muscles and relieve tension. However, Do Not Foam Roll on the IT Band. The IT band issues is a friction (compression & rotation) issue and the foam rolling is great for muscles, but the IT Band is a tendon and tendons to not like compression. However, if you really really love foam rolling for your IT band, you will want to use a Peanut Roller which actually puts the pressure next to it. Also, rolling out your quads, TFL, and glutes is a great idea. (video here) Cupping on the other hand - IS a great thing to do for the IT band because cupping helps pull the tissue up adding space and increasing blood flow between the IT band and the muscles underneath it. (Video here)

  2. Glute & hip abductors strengthening exercises: Weak glute muscles can contribute to IT band pain by causing the hips to drop and putting extra stress on the knee joint. To strengthen your glutes, try exercises like single leg glute bridge marches, clam shells, caption Morgan's. (video coming soon)

  3. Running form: Proper running form can help prevent IT band pain by reducing the amount of stress on the knee joint. Overstriding, Bounding, Hip Drop, & Cross-over can all cause IT Band issues. Let's see how your running is with a Running Assessment.

In conclusion, the IT band plays a crucial role in running by providing support to the leg and stabilizing the knee joint. However, it can also be a source of pain for many runners. By incorporating things like foam rolling, glute & hip strengthening, and proper running form into your training plan, you can help prevent IT band pain and improve your overall running performance.


It's important to improve your running form when having IT Band pain. Our Running Assessment has everything to help you: cues to think about while running & strengthening exercises specifically for you!


Want more help?

Join our Running Workshop here!


Learn how you can run more efficiently Running Assessment


Get your FREE Strength Assessment here!


Join our online 12-week strength program here!

I'll be posting more ideas this week on my IG & FB accounts

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