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Stretch It: Iliotibial Band and Outer Thigh

Running can take its toll on your knees and having tight muscles and soft tissue around the very important knee joint can increase the toll we runners pay. That is why stretching is so very important.

This stretch targets the iliotibial band (ITB), the thick band of fascia that runs down the outside of the thigh, and it is important because when the ITB gets tight it can pull the knee cap out of alignment causing all sorts of pain. This simple move is one of my favorite post running stretches. As an urban runner, I particularly like it because I don't have to touch the ground to do it. So stretch it!

Here's how, via the Foot & Ankle Institute:

Iliotibial Band Stretch

  • Cross your right foot behind your left, so the toes of both feet are almost even.
  • Turn your right hip out, so your toes will be almost touching with your heels apart (sounds just stand up and try it).
  • Side bend to the left allowing your head and neck to bend to the left too!.

Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on both sides at least two times

Fit's Tips: This stretch is for your outer thigh/abductors. You might feel it on the sides of your glutes too, and you might feel that area stretching first. The ITB is fascia, which is challenging to stretch. If your ITB is really tight you should invest in a foam roller and try rolling it out.

Join The Conversation
myhousemd myhousemd 6 years
Yoga has some great stretches that get the IT band! I like the half pigeon pose. And if you use a belt or rope to stretch your leg up (while on your back), then drop it over the opposite side, it stretches the IT perfectly.
jimc61 jimc61 7 years
my knee doesn t hurt, the outside of my thigh does, only when i try to sprint. what to do?
Fitness Fitness 9 years
Amanda-la Since the ITB is hard to stretch you may feel everything else stretch first and the sides of your body could probably use a good stretch. Most of us can really. I feel this stretch intensely in my ITB on one side and of the other side not so much.
veronicaraye veronicaraye 9 years
love these, I try do do these daily.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I had a bout of ITBS a few months ago and I did these stretches a lot. Buying new shoes with better orthotics really helped it as well.
CAcyclegirl CAcyclegirl 9 years
This is a very important stretch for long-distance cyclists as well. And investing in a foam roller is something I can't recommend highly enough!
ma9321 ma9321 9 years
Cool.... i'm going to give it a try. I started jogging a few weeks ago and I noticed my right knee is starting to hurt. I'm sure this will help me out a ton!
tati33 tati33 9 years
my IB was super tight after I had a bad fall on my knee..the first time i used the foam roller i was in excrutiating pain!! but i bought a foam roller..used it at home...and now it feels awesome!! Thanks FitSugar for posting this!!
starofsorrow starofsorrow 9 years
I defnitely need to do this. My IB is SO tight that it's painful most of the time.... I have to start going to physical therapy again soon. Ugh.
Amanda-La Amanda-La 9 years
I'm not sure I'm doing this right, I feel the stretching in my hips and sides not my thighs. Am I doing it wrong? It still feels awesome though
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