Until I had started working with runners, the term Iliotibital Band, for me, was just a part of the body like any other. As I began to interact more and more with runners, I realized that Iliotibial band (commonly known as IT Band) seemed to be a common term of interaction within the running community. Most of them seemed to have fallen victim to the so called, “IT Band Syndrome”.

What is IT Band?

ITBand P1

Picture Source

Iliotibial band is a thick connective tissue, which runs on the outside of the thigh from the top of the hip down to the outer knee. When it comes near the knee, it becomes narrow. The pain from IT band is most commonly felt on the outside of the knee which many runners, mistakenly, identify as knee pain. In a layman’s term, IT band is an area of insertion for different muscles. The two big muscles which go on forming IT band are Gluteus Maximus and Tensor Fasciae Latae. Hence, it is important to check not only the IT Band as a whole but also the health of these two muscles, in isolation, to deal appropriately with the issue of Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

Among the connecting muscles, the one which are weak will need strengthening and the one which are stiff will require optimal stretching. Thereby, obtaining the right stability and balance in that area.

Probable Causes

  1. Injury due to over usage
  2. Not warming up enough before your run
  3. Muscular imbalances especially of Gluteal Maximus and Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL), as both have different actions. Also, weak and tight gluteal muscles can create inappropriate friction in the IT band region.
  4. Anatomical abnormalities like leg length discrepancy, high or low arches, bow legs etc.
  5. Wearing a worn out shoe as it can cause the leg to turn inward repeatedly which causes extreme stretching of the band against the femur.

Avoid

  1. Climbing or descending stairs and hill running, as this usually aggravates the pain.
  2. Try and avoid stepping on gutter cover while running
  3. Avoid sports, which may worsen the problem

Symptoms

Outer knee pain that can extend behind the knee or down the outer calf, pain in the outer hip or thigh, swelling around the knee, and snapping or popping sounds while bending the knee.

Focus Area

  1. Stretching the Iliotibial band will help create a lengthening effect and thereby reducing the friction in that region.
  2. Change directions repeatedly while running for a long period.
  3. Working on the gluteal muscles and tensor fascia latae will have an integrative effect in dealing with the pain.

ONE LEG UTTANA VAKRASAN: (“Uttan” means lying down on the back with face up and “Vakra” means twisting, hence lying down one leg twisted)

Method
  1. Lie down on your back; adjust your lower back by pushing your hips and tailbone towards your heels so that lower back is firmly resting on the floor without any gap or arch.ITBand P2
  2. Place your hands at the back of your head.
  3. Exhale and press your lower back on the floor, bend your left knee and place it at the outside of the right knee; simultaneously move your head to the left side; keep pushing the bent knee closer to your chest.
  4. Try as much as possible to keep both your shoulder blades and elbows on the floor.
  5. Hold this posture for half a minute with normal breathing.
  6. Release and turn to the opposite side by changing your leg and head position.

Benefits

  1. Back Pain: Twisting movement helps stretch the whole spine thereby dealing with back pain or any kind of back problem including SCIATICA, SLIP DISC etc.
  2. For Runners, cyclists, hikers, and in soccer, basketball, and tennis players (Hip Opener): Works on stretching your hamstrings and gluteal muscles. You can feel the stretch from gluteal muscles to the iliotibial band, which is running down the side of the hip.
  3. Thyroid / Neck Stretch: Turning your neck to one side in this posture helps strengthen neck muscles and at the same time removes stiffness from the neck. It also helps massage your thyroid and parathyroid gland.
  4. Frozen /Tight Shoulders: The posture helps release tension from your shoulder and is helpful in case of frozen and stiff shoulders. With regular practice of this posture, you will feel the stiffness gradually release.
  5. Diabetes / Abdominal Region: The twist to abdominal region brings oxygen rich blood to that area. Also stimulates pancreas and liver. Improves sluggish liver & spleen, all these, together, improves metabolism.

Contraindications

  1. Avoid performing this posture in case of acute abdominal pain or any kind of spinal problem.

 

PARIGHASASANA  (“Parigha” means a “beam” a “ray”. Since the posture resembles a ray hence the name)

MethodITBand P3
  1. Sit in Vajrasana. Inhale and raise your hips away from your heels. You are kneeling. Place your hands on your waists.
  2. Stretch your left leg out to the left side. Keep sliding your left heel out inch by inch and straighten the back of the knee. Once you reach your maximum stretch, try to rest your left foot and toes on the floor.
  3. Slide your left palm on your left leg. You are trying to touch your left toes. Grip your left leg, wherever, with your left hand. Raise your right arm straight up in the air. Right fingers are pointing towards ceiling. Feel a lateral stretch to the right side of your body.ITBand P4
  4. Exhale and while exhaling, externally rotate your chest to the right. Wait for a few seconds. Vertically, stretch your spine as much as possible and move your right arm along with your body to the left side. Turn your left palm to the ceiling and try to place your right palm on your left. Turn your head out from in between your arms and try to look at the ceiling. Once in the posture, keep your left knee fixed on the floor and push the left side of your waist up in the air.
  5. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds with normal breathing. Release slowly in reverse order and repeat on the other side.

Note

  1. In case, you are not able to move your right hand close to your left hand, you can place your right hand on your right waist and look up at the ceiling and then at the back.
  2. Also, you should take some cushioning under your right knee to protect it from the hardness of the floor.
  3. While trying to move your head out from in between your arms, do not strain your neck.

Benefits

  1. Abdominal region & waist: In this posture the pelvic region is stretched. One side of the abdomen is extended while the other side is laterally flexed. This keeps the abdominal muscles and organs in healthy condition as it receives oxygen rich blood. The stretch also tones up your sides and helps you get rid of love handles.
  2. Stiff Back: The sideways spinal movement will help people suffering from stiff back.
  3. Ankle: Parighasana works extensively on strengthening ankles. If at all, you feel the squeezing effect on the stretched out ankle, then do not keep the toes on the floor. Let, only your heel be on the floor and let it slide further out with toes curing towards your body.
  4. Hamstrings: Hamstrings and inner thighs get a good stretch thereby releasing stiffness from the groin.
  5. Sciatica: Parighasasana is recommended for releasing SCIATIC pain.
  6. Frozen Shoulder: Stretching the arm above your head helps work on frozen shoulders.

Contraindication

  1. Avoid practice of this asana in case of severe BACK & KNEE pain.

 

PARIVRATA TRIKONASANA (“Parivrata means “turned around”, “Trikonasana” means “triangle”. This is turned around triangle)

Method
  1. Stand in Tadasana Samsthiti; place your palms on your waist; exhale and as you exhale, jump and spread your legs 3 to 3 ½ feet apart.
  2. Raise your right toes up, stretch your right foot, move your right foot to the right side and place it on the floor while pressing your metatarsals firmly on the floor. Move your left foot 30-40 degrees towards your right.
  3. Inhale and while inhaling, cross your arms in front of your body and raise it up above your head, feel complete stretch through out your body; exhale and while exhaling, get your arms parallel to the floor, move your arms at the back as much as possible so that shoulder blades are coming close to each other.ITBand P5
  4. Press your feet firmly on the floor, raise your body up as if you are trying to raise it up in the air, arms are pushed at the back. Exhale and with exhalation, rotate the upper part of your body to the right; half -way through, exhale and place your left palm on the other side of the right foot.
  5. If it is difficult to rest your palm or even the fingertips on the floor, hold your left leg with your right hand wherever you can. Press your right hand firmly and stretch your left arm straight up; both the arms and upper back are in one line.
  6. Raise your head up, turn it to the left and look at your left thumb. Your spine is vertically stretched; your upper back along with both the arms are horizontally stretched. You are also trying to vertically stretch your spine while at the same time raising your spine up in the air. Keep your kneecaps and thigh muscles stretched up. You are pushing your right quadriceps and gluteal muscles to the back; you are rolling your left quadriceps and hips up towards the sky. Hold the posture for 20-30 seconds with normal breathing. Turn your head to the right and look down. Inhale and raise your right arm off the floor. Come back to normal position. Repeat with the left side.

Benefits

  1. For Runners, cyclists, hikers, and soccer, basketball, and tennis players
    • Strengthens and stretches the leg muscles, corrects minor deformities in the legs, stretches the iliotibial band. Stretches the hamstrings and inner thigh on the front leg, the outer hip and calf on the back leg, and the torso and chest.
    • Twisting effect helps stretch the lungs thereby increasing lung capacity. Helps increase oxygen intake for runners and at the same time is also recommended to anyone with any kind of RESPIRATORY problems like ASHTHMA, BRONCHITIES.
    • This posture stretches the spine and helps maintain mobility of the spine. It also helps develop better balancing ability. Running is all about balance of the body while in the air.
  2.  Back Muscles: Parivrata Trikonasana helps relieve BACKACHE & is also helpful in releasing muscle pull in the upper back, stretches the whole spine and directs oxygen rich blood flow to the spine, keeps your intervertebral disc lubricated.
  3. Neck Muscles: Twisting of the neck strengthens neck muscles and at the same time helps massage thyroid and parathyroid gland.

Contraindication

  1. In case of spinal injury, do not perform this posture.

 

SUPTA PADANGHUSTHASANA VARIATION (“Supta” means “lying down”, “Pada” means “foot” & “Anghustha” means “ Big Toe” – a lying down posture in which you are holding your big toe)

Method
  1. Lie down on your back; adjust your lower back by pushing your hips and tailbone towards your heels so that lower back is firmly resting on the floor without any gap or arch.
  2. Exhale and press your lower back on the floor; raise your right leg up and bring it perpendicular to the floor; left leg is resting on the floor.ITBand P6
  3. You may use a belt or a strap to hold the right leg in place; hold for a minute or two with normal breathing.
  4. Rest your left arm on the floor sideways to the left; hold the right toe with your left hand. Keep moving your right leg to the left side of your body so that your left elbow is on the floor and left forearm is perpendicular to the floor. Your head has moved to the right. Keep pushing your right leg up and close to your head. Both the shoulder blades are resting on the floor. Be there for 1-2 minutes with normal breathing, bring your left leg in the middle; release and relax. Repeat the same sequence with the other leg.

Benefits

  1. For Runners, cyclists, hikers, and in soccer, basketball, and tennis players
    • Apart from the abovementioned benefits, you also get a good blood flow to your legs, hips and lower back thereby reducing any lower back pain and at the same time strengthening it. Regular practice of this posture helps improve varicose veins and the health of your knees, brings great stretch in your groin & calves and thus helps control sciatica. You can also feel a great involvement and stretch of gluteus maximus while turning your raised leg to the opposite side.
    • Stretching one leg at a time with support and holding the stretch will give you enough time to understand the sensation and involvement of each muscle. As a runner, you do need certain level of tightness in your hamstrings but too much tension is bound to lead to a host of problems like back pain, hip pain or pain in the lower leg.
    • Stretching with Supta Padanghusthasana brings great freedom to the back, pelvis, outer hips and helps you run better. As you are lying down on the floor, your back is not forced to bear the weight of your torso and as you get your leg up, gravity will help you stretch your hamstring while at the same time allowing you to use your muscles by slightly engaging it during the movement.
  2. Back Pain & Knee Pain: This variation of Supta Padanghusthasana helps relieve back pain and knee pain.
  3.  Thyroid / Neck Stretch: Turning your neck to one side in this posture helps strengthen neck muscles and at the same time removes stiffness from the neck. It also helps massage your thyroid and parathyroid gland.

Tips: Slowly keep flexing your toes in and stretch your heel out to optimize the stretch at the back of the leg.

Note: Make sure you keep your hips and back releasing into the floor so that you do not strain your lower back.

Contraindication

  1. Avoid in case of severe BACK PAIN

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You can check the videos for some of these postures in the “Video” section at www.shammisyogalaya.com Also, “Ask Shammi” at the top of www.shammisyogalaya.com allows you to directly ask questions to Shammi.

 

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