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Providing Natural Help for a Tight Iliotibial (IT) Band

knee exerciseThe iliotibial band is a long band of fascia that runs from your hip to the outside of your shin, just below your knee. It helps support the thigh muscles and the knee joints. When this fibrous band of tissue becomes inflamed, you may experience painful tightness in your leg. Although this pain may appear suddenly, the truth is IT bands don’t just get extremely tight for no reason.

What Causes IT Band Inflammation?

Typically, tightness and inflammation in the iliotibial band are secondary to weakness in some adjacent musculature. When you engage in repetitive motions that involve the muscles of the legs, such as running, cycling, rowing or other activities that rely on those muscles, if the muscles aren’t operating as they should, or if they’re in a weakened condition, the IT band compensates to help protect the joints. It tightens up as a way to support and guard the area.

What Can Be Done About It?

Oftentimes, people try approaches like massage or myofascial release to help release the tension in the band directly. But if you don’t address the underlying cause, the problem will persist. At Back Pain Center, we figure out which muscles aren’t firing properly—usually the glute or hip muscles—and then work to bring those muscles back “online” and strengthen them so the IT band doesn’t have to do all the work.

A multi-pronged approach often offers the best results. Chiropractic adjustments can help restore proper alignment and motion in the joints, which can free the muscles to move as they should. Soft-tissue therapies, such as Active Releaseche Tniques® and dry needling, are highly effective in breaking up the scar tissue in the muscles, tendons and fascia. And customized at-home rehab exercises help retrain the muscles to fire and move effectively.

When the joints and muscles can freely move, the IT band can relax—and you can breathe a sigh of relief!

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