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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- This pose loosens up the hips.
- Relax completely and let gravity and the weight of your arms do the work.6. 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
- 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
- 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
.Previous Yoga with Abi
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