Is it actually possible to reverse IT band issues?

Hi all,

I’ve been trying to do stretches and mobility exercises to get over a very long-running IT band issue in my right leg. I think it was on a recent TR podcast where I heard someone say that it’s not possible to stretch/relax the IT band once it’s tightened up over time. Something about tendons not being like muscles, in that they don’t stretch and once they’ve tightened they’re like that for life unless you get surgery done.

Did I hear the speaker wrong?

I just happened to hear something related to this. I think the guest said that it is possible to do this. I may be mixing tendons/ligaments and don’t remember for sure. But could be worth a lesson.

Edit: right around 28:00

https://www.podbean.com/site/EpisodeDownload/DIR71CFA1FV4DFN

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I think you misheard. You cannot stretch the IT band. The IT band and muscles that slide alongside of it get stuck together, causing the problems. You can fix that, basically by forcing them apart on either side of the band all along.

Here’s a video, it’s older, but it addresses it. Around 4:15 is where he discusses sticking a ball on either side of it and using it to restore the sliding surfaces. I’d watch the entire thing.

That’s the same guy who was a guest on the show, his first round of videos where he did one a day for a year.

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You can absolutely sort out IT band issues, but it takes 1) time 2) consistency 3) root cause analysis

The Kelly Starrett video is really good and its basically how i got my issues sorted out over time.
The biggest thing though was figuring out WHY my IT band(s) were causing me grief. I had been doing all the right things to try and loosen them for the better part of 9 months without any sustained relief. Bike fit did it for me. Got that changed and within two weeks I was basically pain free as the reason for my issues was gone.
Some are going to have other causes, but it’s important to try and sort that part out if you arent seeing relief as all you are doing is continuing to aggravate them.

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I cannot emphasize #3 enough…IT band problems are a symptom of a larger issue. The majority of the time is is related to weak glutes.

I struggled for over a year with IT issues…did it all- icing, foam rolling, stretching, KT Tape (complete voodoo, FWIW), etc. Nothing worked until I got serious about strengthening my glutes (and really the whole kinetic chain down my leg).

One-legged squats, “Running Man” squats, Monster Walks w/ therapy bands, etc. Also find a balance pad and do assorted squat, reach exercises on one leg (great for building up your stabilizing muscles in your ankle / calves).

If you only focus on the IT Band, you won’t solve the problem.

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I used to have massive IT band issues… buy a foam roll, and follow these instructions.

This will alleviate the symptoms, and loosen the tendon over time so the symptoms become less and less. They key to the foam roller working is time + consistency.

But you will definitely want to find the underlying cause - for me, it was bad running shoes exacerbated by a outside (supination) foot-fall. If you are having IT band issues on the bike, I’d start with cleat placement and/or arch support, and work up the leg from there in terms of diagnosing.

Good luck

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In my opinion forget stretching and rolling. It’s all about strengthening the hip area. Check out this routine in the link. After getting mine sorted I now just do hip hikes and the side steps with a band around my legs for maintenance. Haven’t had a issue in years.
https://youtu.be/ydcy3dPf__M

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I was just diagnosed with ITB Friction Syndrome. I never had ITB problems in the past, but post race/riding this season (Oct) I took a couple weeks off. I started back with new shoes and had no issues the first ride. Mid ride the next day my ITB was screaming at me. I’ve been battling controlling pain ever since. Going back to my old shoes haven’t solved the problem. Went to PT and have been stretching and rolling daily now. As long as I never skip a day the pain is mostly gone, but miss a day and it’s back.

So the only thing that has changed was my new shoes and some time off the bike after a long and grueling race season. I keep playing with my cleats and raising my seat a few mm to find the sweet spot without success.

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Thanks. I do weight training twice a week focusing on deadlifts and front squats. That being said, I have a feeling I’m not strong laterally.

I dont think you can say its always one issue.

I’ve had ITB syndrome for a full 10 years now. I went to physical therapy. The therapist didnt hace bands strong enough to challenge my hips. She said strength was not the issue.

Thankfully as of yet, my IT band has not bothered me on the bike. Only running.

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For me, from running was weak and non-firing glutes. Thankfully, hasn’t affected me on the bike (even when I couldn’t run more than 2km), but I think that’s more luck than anything I’ve done as haven’t been consistent on the exercises I was given.

I do get glute doms occasionally, so I’m assuming once their firing, their firing…

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One additional thought…I did get two cortisone shots in the bursa sac in my knee. The inflammation there was so deep that no amount of icing was gonna reduce it.

The cortisone shots gave me temporary relief and allowed me to keep training (my issue was running). It did not however solve my problem…rather, it alleviated a symptom. I continued to train but spent the earlier-mentioned time to properly address the root cause of my problem (weak glutes).

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Anyone really suffering from the IT band issues I recommend this:

There is basically a constantly updating compilation article of science and research based info on the topic. Same also for PFPS/runners knee i.e. front knee pain.
It’s not free and you probably wont find a solution from there but it’s worth it if you are really interested. Potentially saves you wasting money on useless things like physios that will tell you to go to the gym (no evidence has been found btw on muscle imbalance causing/solving the ITBS).

However the very short version goes something like this:
ITB syndrome is not completely understood and not much research is going into it so most of the “wisdoms” around it are old or not scientifically valid. However foam rolling it definately is not a solution, it might help when e.g. the muscles it attaches to are tight, but ITB itself is super strong, is not really moving/sliding relative to the quad muscle and is not “moldable”. Massage might relive the pain and might generally be helpful, like the gym, icing or other treatments but they are unlikely to solve the main issue. The actual problem is not the ITB itself but probably comes from the friction created by it to the bony bit under the ITB on the side of your knee, where some irritation starts to build up and create a bursa or some sort of fatty callus type of thing that is getting inflamed/painful. Some experimental surgeries have been done where removing that abnormal bursa/fatty stuff (even that is not figured out by science what it actually is) has solved the issue, without touching the ITB.

Me personally I have found some relief only from Voltaren Forte gel which is like ibuprofen but in a gel form directly applied to the painful spot twice a day. Other help has come from fine tuning the bike fit (cleat position, saddle height) and minimazing the time you spend having the knee at the painful angle, i.e. slighlty bent. (higher cadence, laying on the sofa/bed with leg straight). But gone is it not, just manageable…

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