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IT Band Woes? Physical Therapy Can Help!

Picture this: you suffer from chronic IT Band problems and have had lots of physical therapy, yoga, stretching, and/or Pilates to no avail. Shots didn't help and now the recommendation is for you to have surgery. Wait...just wait! Physical therapy for IT Band problems CAN actually help...

Traditional physical therapy treatment for IT Band syndrome is hip stretching and glute, quad, hamstring, and core strengthening. If you're reading this, you've most likely already been there and worked on exercises that fall under this umbrella. However, there is a really BIG piece of science that is missing in this scenario...

Keep reading and you'll find the answer below :)

Would you build a house on a crooked foundation? Could you do it? You could, but it wouldn't be done well. If your pelvis (made up of your innominates [a.k.a. hip sockets] and the sacrum) are in a poor resting position, then you can't expect your muscles, ligaments, and fascia to function correctly. You can stretch and try and strengthen all day long, but until you activate the muscles in the correct order to change that socket position, you are just going to stay stuck.

Illustration of the Illiotibial Tract/Band (IT Band)

There are many reasons why our pelvis gets stuck, and while we aren't going to discuss this in this post, you can read more about it here. When one side of the pelvis (innominate) becomes torqued forward, the IT Band will become torqued due to its attachment to the innominate. The glutes, hamstrings, and quads will also experience a change in length (some too tight and some too long) due to the innominate position.

To get the IT Band "untorqued," the first thing that has to be done is to improve the relationship between the hamstrings and the obliques. These two muscles are key in maintaining a proper innominate position. This doesn't mean you need to hit the gym and start busting out side crunches. The hamstrings and obliques need to learn how to work together when the pelvis is in a better position passively.

At Joint Effort, we don't do "traditional" PT exercises. Our Postural Restoration repositioning techniques are designed to improve muscle relationships and alter the postural position of our pelvis, ribcage, and cranium. We work to restore the mechanics of how the cranium, ribcage, and pelvis move together and alternate from side to side. Techniques we may use to treat IT Band issues include:

Manual ribcage techniques to help activate obliques and reduce back tension that is creating the "torque" in the pelvis

  • Exhalation breathing techniques (sometimes with balloons) to activate obliques and and help assist in the backward rotation of the pelvis

  • Walking with hiking sticks to help restore alternation and proper pelvis/hip shifting from side to side and allowing the IT Band to function normally

  • Re-educating glute muscles to activate properly when they are supposed to as opposed to just general glute strengthening

  • Recommending shoewear to use temporarily to help assist the pelvis to "stack" properly and get you walking better!

A physical therapist working with a patient on breath work

If you think you (and your IT Bands!) might benefit from this unique treatment, book an assessment with our Postural Restoration specialists, Gina and Courtney!


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