Post-Ride Yoga Poses For a Tight IT Band - Monthly Yoga With Abi

Feb 28, 2017
by Abi Carver  
Dead Pigeon Photo credit Paul Baker

In this article, I’m going to give you a series of yoga poses designed to release tension in the iliotibial (IT) band and relieve associated hip, knee and outer thigh pain.

What is the IT Band?

- The IT band is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the outside of your thigh, from your hip to just below the knee.
- It acts like a spring when you walk, run or ride your bike, storing and releasing elastic energy.
- It helps to stabilize the knee.

How does it get tight?

- The IT band gets tight from overuse, especially in cyclists and runners.
- Tight muscles in the surrounding area pull the IT band out of alignment, causing tension in the band itself.

Everything in the body is connected

As I’ve mentioned in several of my previous articles, when one muscle group is weak or tight, the surrounding musculature adapts to take up the slack. Over time, these compensation patterns lead to muscular imbalances and misalignment issues.

In this case, if the IT band is tight, we also need to look at stretching the glutes, quads, tensor fascia latae (a small muscle on the outside of the hip), hamstrings and calves, as well as strengthening the core and intrinsic foot muscles.

The dangers of over-stretching the IT band

The IT band is a thick, dense band of connective tissue which is less elastic than muscle and which therefore doesn’t respond to stretching in the same way. The most effective approach to releasing tension in the IT band – without compromising its ability to stabilize the knee – is to stretch the surrounding musculature and increase mobility in the hips, taking pressure off the IT band as a result.

How yoga can help

Yoga is a multi-dimensional recovery tool which simultaneously stretches tight muscles, strengthens weak structures and increases joint mobility.

If you have the Yoga For Mountain Bikers series, the key routines for you to practice for this condition are:

- Post-Ride Stretch
- Unlock Tight Hips
- Twists To Increase Joint Mobility
- Core Strengtheners

Here are some additional stretches you can do after your ride and in fact, after all your workouts.

Warning

If you think you may have Iliotibial Band Syndrome, please make sure you check with your doctor or physical therapist before attempting these stretches.

Poses

Hold each pose for 5-10 deep breaths, in and out through your nose. As always, be careful not to use force. Slow down your breath and sink deeper into the stretch on every exhalation.

You may need to modify the poses, depending on your own personal level of flexibility. If you're out on the trails without access to blocks and cushions, check which muscle group the pose is primarily targeted at and take hold of whatever you need, to get at it the best you can. You'll find variations and modifications for all these poses on my site.

1. Low Lunge and Half Monkey

Low Lunge

Half Monkey - a calf and hamstring stretch.

- Spend 5-10 breaths stretching your hip flexors in Low Lunge and 5-10 breaths on your hamstrings in Half Monkey, then switch to the other side.
- In Low Lunge, check that your front knee doesn't come forward over your ankle.
- Keep your front foot flexed in Half Monkey to increase the stretch in your calves and hamstrings. If you can, take hold of the top of your foot and pull your toes back towards you, being careful not to strain your lower back.

2. Low Lunge with Sidebend

Low Lunge with Sidebend

- This variation of Low Lunge stretches the hip flexors, IT band and tensor fascia latae (outer hip).
- If you can't reach the ground with your bottom hand, just rest it on your hip.
- You can also bring your back knee forward to help with your balance.
- Remember not to let your front knee come forward over your ankle.

3. Low Lunge with Quad Stretch

Low Lunge Quad Stretch

- Walk your front foot out to the side and grab your back foot or ankle to move the stretch to your quad.
- Try not to collapse your bottom shoulder.

4. Seated Spinal Twist

Seated Spinal Twist

- This pose stretches the IT band, glutes, and outer hips.
- Skip it if you can't do it comfortably, keeping your lower back flat. If you're at home, you can sit on the edge of a cushion to help with the alignment.

5. Wind-Relieving Pose

Wind-Relieving Pose

- This pose loosens up the hips.
- Relax completely and let gravity and the weight of your arms do the work.

6. Dead Pigeon

Dead Pigeon

- This is arguably the most important pose for you to do after a long ride.
- It stretches the outer hips, glutes, piriformis, groin, knees and ankles and releases the lower back.
- Stay longer than 10 breaths if you can.

7. Reclining Spinal Twist

Reclining Spinal Twist

- This pose stretches the IT band, hips, glutes, abs, obliques, chest, shoulders and neck.
- You'll find modifications on my site: www.yoga15.com/reclining-spinal-twist. Try Eagle legs if you have the flexibility.

8. Downward Dog to Pigeon

Views: 7,940    Faves: 49    Comments: 5


- Pigeon pose stretches the outsides of the hips and the hip flexors.
- Walk out your feet in Downward Dog in between sides, to give your hamstrings a good stretch.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and if there are any other issues you're struggling with.

You can download the full Yoga For Mountain Bikers series here.

Previous Yoga with Abi:

Three Levels of Yoga to Relieve Lower Back Pain
Stretches to Relieve a Tight Chest and Stiff Shoulders
The Most Effective Style of Yoga to Increase Your Flexibility
Easy 15-Minute Yoga Routine To Loosen Up Tight Joints
How To Release Tight Quads And Increase Your Power
How To Release Chronically Tight Hamstrings
A Challenging One-Hour Yoga Flow Class
Take Control of Your Mind and Push Your Personal Limits
Yoga To Relieve Pain In Between The Shoulder Blades
15-Minute Routine To Unlock Tight Hips
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Build Core Strength
Short Yoga Routine To Help With Lower Back Pain in Bikers
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Enhance Balance and Agilityl
15-Minute Post-Ride Yoga Routine
8 Quick Yoga Stretches To Do At Work


MENTIONS: @yoga15app




66 Comments

  • 81 1
 I should do this stuff after a ride but prefer eating my body weight in pasta and making comments on PB
  • 13 2
 Carbo overload engage!

(Just be sure to drink water, unlike Micheal Scott)
  • 5 0
 @tigerteeuwen: LOL...god I love the office
  • 16 2
 Always fun to see a new Abi post, thanks. Great stuff again.
  • 6 33
flag bigburd (Feb 28, 2017 at 12:09) (Below Threshold)
 buhahaha
  • 3 1
 Been doing them since New Years. Feel stronger on technical sections even though the weather has been s***.and it's been tough to ride much
  • 3 1
 Thank you @mmfood. I hope these stretches keep you feeling supple.
  • 2 0
 @codypup: Awesome.
  • 8 1
 Having suffered knee problems from tight IT bands, I've been doing some of these stretches already and will add the others in.

Some advice I'd like to share for others with tight IT bands is to use a lacrosse ball to roll across the IT band (perpendicular to your leg). Doing this for a few weeks achieved more than using a foam roller for two years and has cured my knee issues. I was given this exercise by a sports doctor who treats All Blacks players so he knows his stuff.
  • 6 1
 Lacrosse ball is the sh*t. Oh man it hurts so good.
  • 5 1
 Foam roller helped me tons and still does. Just saying.
  • 2 1
 Yeah, I was going to ask about a roller in addition to these stretches.
  • 2 0
 Hells yeah. I get my wife to do it for me as she will inflict pain on me at the drop of a hat!
  • 1 0
 I don't love foam rollers...I have one of those massage roller-sticks ("The Stick"?) that's pretty good though...I use it during what I now know to be a dead pigeon manouvre.

Also have friends who have gaffer-taped two lacrosse balls together to use in-line with the ITB.
  • 1 0
 @Altron: yes! Lactose ball was difficult to limit the force, got bruising. Foam roller was too soft. I got a moji pro curve, stainless balls, perfect for it and shins.
  • 2 0
 @captaingrumpy: Lactose ball, nice one
  • 7 0
 I'm going to incorporate some of these.

FYI, many IT band problems stem from a deactivated gluteus medius. Rolling it does nothing. I had IT band issues until I read the following. Now all is good!

breakingmuscle.com/learn/your-it-band-is-not-the-enemy-but-maybe-your-foam-roller-is
  • 5 0
 This is the best piece of advice I've ever seen on the PB comment board. Coming from a mountain biker that happens to be a Strength and Conditioning coach for elite level athletes, please read this. The IT Band cannot be stretched so stop wasting your time. Address the underlying problem, not the pain (which is what this nice young lady is doing).
  • 5 1
 @GLPrider: In this article, this nice young lady, is recommending stretching the "surrounding musculature and increasing mobility in the hips to take pressure off the IT band." Yoga takes athletes out of habitual movement patterns that cause pain and dysfunction. This nice young lady is not proposing a cure for all IT band issues.
  • 2 0
 @yoga15app: I was backing you up on a good article that addressed the problem not the pain. I thought my last sentence clearly stated that I agreed with you...
  • 1 1
 @GLPrider: I'm so sorry! I misunderstood you. I must have got out of the wrong side of the bed yesterday. I was clearly feeling bolshy! I'm glad we're on the same page.Thank you for your comment.
  • 10 1
 Checked with the Dr - said "Who cares, its Abi, do it" haha
  • 4 1
 If you have knee problems and staying in some of those kneeling poses are painful (like low lunge), a folded up blanket works well but can be cumbersome. Or get something like this: www.amazon.com/SukhaMat-Yoga-Knee-Pad-Complements/dp/B00O055GRI


Got one like that (mine is actually too thick at 25mm) and its been very helpful for practicing yoga. Less cumbersome than a blanket.
  • 1 0
 I haven't seen those. Such a good idea. Rolling the mat over to create support gets super annoying.
  • 13 6
 i think these stretches would work better if i was in fiji on the beach
  • 2 0
 10,000km away bro..
  • 2 0
 how does this get negged? I don't understand
  • 2 0
 ha. was referring to her last article where i believe she said she was in that tropical locale
  • 1 0
 @fullbug: always lazing around islands that one lol
  • 1 0
 @Soupherb: got my toes in the sand and a drink in my hand.... namaste.
  • 3 0
 Probably!
  • 2 0
 @Soupherb: i need an island break asap, brother!
  • 2 0
 @fullbug: just not this one bro! It sucks Hahaha! Me too .. via boat or jump out of a plane..
  • 1 0
 @Soupherb: lol. yes...location is key. may palm trees be on your horizon, son!
  • 5 0
 How soon should i be doing any post ride yoga?
Right after riding before i drive home?
Or can i do it an hour after riding?
  • 2 0
 You can certainly wait until you get home. Just make sure your muscles are warm before you stretch.
  • 1 0
 My IT band pulled my knee out of its socket in four days from boot packing ski runs. Now I always stretch out and use a Stick roller to roll out the bands when I feel it tightening.
  • 2 2
 That's exactly the problem I've got because of trail running and mtn biking! I try to do some of these + tennis ball + foam roller as much as I can but don't always have the time... It takes a lot of time if you want to do that before/after gym, bike, snowboard, fatbike, mtn bike, etc.!! Frown
  • 2 0
 You just have to be disciplined. Make sure you warm up for 5-10 mins before you exercise and send 15 minutes stretching out/foam rolling after or in the evening.
  • 2 0
 These are excellent! Thanks for another great article Abi. I highly recommend, in fact I am looking forward to buying the yoga for mountain bikers series.
  • 1 0
 Thanks @drobs71! Let me know if you have any questions about the series. My email address is: abi@yoga15.com.
  • 2 0
 I do some of these stretches and they do help, but I also find drinking beer immediately after riding helps more.
  • 2 0
 I subscribe to abi on vimeo. Her short routines and stretches are part mine and my kiddos morning routine
  • 2 0
 Bet your kid's a natural!
  • 1 0
 @yoga15app: thats the plan Smile
  • 2 0
 Way to go, Abi! I do the dead pigeon and recline spinal twist most of the time...they do work!
  • 1 0
 Thanks Gao! If I had to recommend 5 stretches to mountain bikers, Dead Pigeon and Reclining Spinal Twist would definitely be in there.
  • 1 0
 Ability, during reclining spinal twist, is it more important to have the knee touch the floor or to have both shoulders flat on the floor?
  • 1 0
 Abi. Smart phone ain't so smart.
  • 2 0
 @iamamodel: shoulders flat, I believe. You slowly work up to getting the knees over as you get more flexible.
  • 1 0
 @sourmix is spot on. Shoulders. If you can, rest your knee on a cushion so that you can fully let go of tension at your lower back. Check out the supported version in this post:

www.pinkbike.com/u/yoga15app/blog/the-most-effective-style-of-yoga-to-increase-your-flexibility.html
  • 3 0
 @iamamodel: You can call me Ability if you like!
  • 1 0
 Thanks Abi! Smile
Low Lunge with Quad Stretch looked at first impossible but I managed it the first time I tried!
Yoga is so great!
  • 2 0
 Low Lunge with Quad Stretch does look pretty tricky - they call it Twisted Half Lizard in yoga to be fancy. Try to make sure your knee doesn't come forward over your ankle and you should be able to get a good stretch in the quads and groin.
  • 1 0
 Number 6 and 7 are my constant go to moves, along with the rest of them. All super valuable stuff
  • 2 0
 Thank you @boardinbob. Dead Pigeon and Reclining Spinal Twist are super effective. Maybe try some of the variations on my site: www.yoga15.com/reclining-spinal-twist
  • 1 0
 ...
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