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8 IT Band Stretches and Tips for Runners

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    Toss Old Shoes

    Running in worn-out shoes with poor absorption takes a toll on your IT band, says Josh Rowell, DC, of Chicago Spine and Joint Care. As a result, you might run with exaggerated pronation, Winn adds. That means your form takes the back seat as your ankle turns inward with each step, putting even more tension on the IT band. Buy new shoes every 300 to 500 miles.

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    Analyze Your Running Form

    Visit a running store and ask an expert to take a look at your form. Are you dropping your hips or pelvis to one side? That could irritate the IT band and lead to problems down the line, Winn says.

  • Strengthen Your Core and Glutes

    Prevent IT band issues from creeping up by strengthening other key running muscles, like your glutes and core. Strength in these muscles helps the body maintain stability and control and will prevent your IT band from picking up the slack, Winn says. Modify this single-leg balance by kicking your leg out to the side. Or place a loop resistance band around your knees and walk side to side with the knees straight.

  • Work Every Direction

    Instead of the standard back-to-front movements, like forward lunges and squats, add movements that work other planes into your routine. Think side-to-side squats instead of standard squats and side lunges instead of forward lunges. Keep your knees from bending toward the middle of the body, Winn says.

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    Strengthen Your Hip Abductors

    Master the standing hip abduction: Stand with right foot on a phone book, keeping left foot above floor and right knee slightly bent. Lift left leg to the side as high as possible; lower. Do 10 to 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

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    Add Miles and Hills Gradually

    Going too far—or too steep—too fast can lead to a tight IT band, Winn says. Increase miles and elevation gradually to make sure your body recovers. In addition, consider the terrain. Running on hard, uneven, or sloped surfaces could trigger IT band irritation, Rowell says.

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    Befriend the Foam Roller

    Be warned: Once the IT band is irritated, foam rolling can be painful, but it's an effective treatment, Rowell says. Beginning at the hip, work the foam roller in small sections down the side of the leg for one to two minutes per leg daily, Winn says. Imagine you're rolling pizza dough as you try to guide your band over the muscles. Once you hit a tender spot, hold it with your weight over the foam roller, Rowell says. Move to the next spot when the pain eases up.

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    Take Time Off

    It's not completely necessary to take a vacation from running, but it's important to cut back on the duration and frequency of your runs until your IT band heals, Rowell says. If your pain exceeds a four on a one-to-ten scale while you're running or post-run, ease up, Winn says. In your off time, work to strengthen your glutes to come back stronger.