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Strengthen Your Glutes to Prevent IT Band Syndrome

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

IT band syndrome is a common injury among runners and athletes that can be painful, limiting, and even career-ending if left untreated. It's important to understand the causes of IT band syndrome as well as how to prevent it from happening in the first place. Through strengthening exercises such as side planks with hip abduction exercise, bridging exercise, clamshell exercise, single leg deadlift exercise - all targeting glutes - you can reduce your risk of suffering from this often debilitating condition. In this blog post we'll look at what IT band syndrome is exactly and provide helpful tips on both treating it should you suffer an episode along with preventive measures for avoiding it altogether!



What is IT Band Syndrome?

IT Band Syndrome is an overuse injury caused by repetitive motion of the hip and knee joints, resulting in pain on the outside of the thigh. Symptoms can include pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness along the iliotibial band. This condition can be quite painful and limit mobility if left untreated.


Symptoms: The most common symptom of IT Band Syndrome is a sharp or burning pain on the outside of your thigh that worsens with activity such as running or walking up stairs. Other symptoms may include tenderness to touch along the iliotibial band, swelling around your knee joint, tightness in your hips or glutes when stretching them out, difficulty bending your leg at certain angles due to discomfort from inflammation.


There are several potential causes for IT Band Syndrome including running on uneven surfaces or with improper form; tight muscles such as quads and hamstrings; weak glutes; poor footwear; excessive hill training without proper rest periods between runs; sudden increases in mileage or intensity levels without adequate preparation; muscle imbalances between legs/hips/core muscles, and lack of flexibility in hip flexors, abductors, and adductors. All these factors contribute to increased stress placed upon the iliotibial band which leads to irritation and inflammation causing this condition.


Diagnosis is made through physical examination where a healthcare professional will assess range-of-motion tests (flexibility) as well as palpate (feel) for areas of tenderness along the iliotibial band region while also checking for any signs of swelling around your knee joint area. Imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans may also be ordered depending on severity level in order to rule out other possible conditions like arthritis before making a diagnosis for IT Band Syndrome specifically.

Key Takeaway: IT Band Syndrome is an overuse injury caused by repetitive motion of the hip and knee joints resulting in pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness along the iliotibial band. Potential causes include: running on uneven surfaces; tight muscles; weak glutes; poor footwear; sudden increases in mileage or intensity levels without adequate preparation; muscle imbalances between legs, hips and core muscles. Diagnosis requires physical examination as well as imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans.


How to Treat IT Band Syndrome?


Rest and Ice Therapy: Resting the affected area is essential for reducing inflammation and pain associated with IT Band Syndrome. Applying ice to the outside of the knee can help reduce swelling and decrease pain and discomfort. It’s important to remember that these treatments are only temporary solutions; they do not address the underlying cause of IT Band Syndrome.



Stretching Exercises: Stretching exercises can help improve flexibility in the hip flexors and quadriceps muscles, which will reduce tension on the IT band. Examples of stretching exercises include standing side stretches, kneeling hip flexor stretches, seated hamstring stretches, and foam

rolling along your outer thigh (IT band). These should be done regularly throughout your day to keep your muscles loose and flexible.



Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises are key for treating IT Band Syndrome because they target weak glutes and core muscles that may be contributing to tightness in your hips or knees. Examples of strengthening exercises include side planks with hip abduction exercise, bridging exercise, clamshell exercise, single leg deadlift exercise. It is important to start slowly using your body weight or light weights before increasing intensity over time as you build strength in these areas.




Prevention of IT Band Syndrome


Proper Warm-up and Cool-down Routines: Warming up before any activity that involves repetitive motion of the hip and knee joints is essential for injury prevention. This can include dynamic stretching, jogging or light running, as well as bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, leg swings and arm circles. Cooling down after activities helps reduce muscle fatigue by gradually decreasing intensity over time. This can be done through static stretching, walking or light jogging to help muscles relax.


Regular Strength Training for Glutes and Core Muscles: Strengthening these areas are important in order to prevent IT Band Syndrome from occurring or recurring. Exercises such as squats, bridges, planks and side planks should be incorporated into a regular strength training routine to target these areas specifically. These exercises will help strengthen the glutes, which are often weak in those who suffer from IT Band Syndrome; they also help improve core stability which is important for proper posture when running or engaging in other activities that involve repetitive motion of the hips and knees.

Incorporating progressive strength training into your exercise routine is imperative for injury prevention. Below are some of my favorite and most effective exercises to incorporate into your routine to help prevent and recover from IT Band Syndrome. We make sure to provide modifications for all fitness levels in our Stronger Together workouts because proper FORM is crucial. Performing 5 reps of an exercise in proper form is much better than completing 20 reps with poor form. Poor form while performing an exercise can lead to further injury so make sure you take the time to watch the videos and use the proper form during your workouts. Check out these FOUR exercises to add into your routine.


FOUR Exercises to Prevent IT Band Injury

Single Leg Deadlift 1

Single Leg Deadlift 2

Clamshells



Banded Bridges



Single Leg Bridges


Side Planks with Hip Abduction


It is also important to wear appropriate footwear when running or engaging in other activities that involve repetitive motion of the hips and knees. Shoes should fit properly with enough room around the toes but not too much space at the heel so it does not slip off during movement; cushioning should also be taken into consideration depending on what type of surface you will be running on (i.e., asphalt vs grass). Wearing shoes with good arch support can help reduce strain on your feet while providing extra cushioning if needed, ultimately leading to less pain in your lower extremities due to reduced pressure on certain points throughout your gait cycle when running or walking long distances.

Key Takeaway: To prevent IT Band Syndrome, regular strength training for the glutes and core muscles should be incorporated into a routine as well as proper warm-up and cool-down routines. Additionally, appropriate footwear should be worn to reduce strain on feet while running or walking long distances.





Are you a runner who has been dealing with the pain and discomfort of IT Band Syndrome? If so, it's time to take action! Strengthening your muscles is key for preventing injuries. Incorporating strength training into your running routine can help prevent further injury and reduce pain associated with IT Band Syndrome. Within KMF’s Stronger Together Programs, we make it a point to include these types of progressive strength exercises specifically to help prevent injuries in runners. Don't wait any longer - start protecting yourself today!




Train smart, be consistent and unlock your fitness potential,


Jennifer PT, DPT




**The content in this physical therapy blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The author and publisher of this blog post are not liable for any errors or omissions in the content, nor for any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use. Reliance on any information provided by this blog post is solely at your own risk.**

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