The IT Band…
For many people, those three words cause a cringing reaction and a natural tendency to grab the outside of their thigh and rub it incessantly, remembering how annoying and painful the IT band syndrome they experienced was.
The reasons why the area on the outside of the thigh becomes agitated to a point where it is painful are many. We know that many different modalities like massage and foam rolling create immediate relief from the pain only to return a day or two later.
Any good practitioner in the pain relief field will tell you that what they do is not an end all be all. It needs to be coordinated with a training program designed to facilitate proper usage of the muscles. That will facilitate a better movement pattern thus causing the pain to slowly go away and stay away long term.
Just like anything else, no one else can get it better besides YOU!
So, I’m going to make it simpler for you, not easier, just simpler: you need to strengthen your inner hamstrings.
They are known as your semimembranosus and semitendinosus and sit, you guessed it, towards the inside of the back of your thigh.
The reason you need to strengthen them is two fold:
- They are internal torque chain muscles, meaning they are built for endurance and most IT band issues come from running or other endurance based sports.
- They are typically weak and because of that, the muscles on the outside of the thigh (external torque chain) have to take over. A weak lower body treats something as simple as jogging as an explosive training event which forces the external torque muscles to kick on. But they aren’t suited to keep going and going.
So, instead of addressing the muscles on the outside of the hip, we can look inward and find ways to activate the internal torque chain ie. inner hamstrings through a simple exercise and start building strength to not just reduce pain for the IT band but keep it away forever so training can be fun again!
We call them hip lifts.
It looks basically like a glute bridge with one key difference, the heels are off the ground and the big toe is down and driving the entire time. The big toe is critical to find the internal torque chain and since your feet don’t need to leave the ground for this, it’s really hard to screw up.
Now, I also have found that training this with sets and reps isn’t nearly as effective as doing 1 set, 2 if you are feeling really ambitious, to a song.
Here’s how it goes.
- You start in the up position of the hip lift
- You pick a song from my playlist (song list thoroughly stolen from Richard Aceves at Strongfit)
- The only rule is: no resting the hips on the ground
- Every time the key word, which there is one in every song repeated FREQUENTLY, is said, you pull down where the hips almost touch the ground then drive back up to the top.
Remember these muscles are built for sustained endurance, so go attack it. And attack it at least 2x/week but no more than 4x/week. Then get out and do your sport and start to find the difference in how you move.
And, if this helps to clear your IT band pain for good, then I am a happy coach!