3 Stretches You Should Always Do After a Run to Help Ease IT-Band Pain

Running is a great workout, but it can also be tough on your joints, especially if you aren't diligent about warming up before a run and cooling down after. In fact, if you find yourself skipping the stretches postrun, you may notice pain on the outside of your knee, sometimes referred to as runner's knee. This pain often stems from the iliotibial (IT) band.

"The IT band is a tissue that runs along the side of your leg," Dania Valdes, an ACE-certified personal trainer and fitness specialist at Mindbody, told POPSUGAR. "It links the hip joint to the knee joint and helps stabilize the knee as the gluteus maximus, a prime mover for hip extension, is engaged when running." Overtraining, not stretching properly, and even wearing the wrong type of running shoes can all cause the IT band to become tight or inflamed.

Prevent the pain by doing these IT-band-focused stretches after a run to help release tension. If you want to improve or maintain flexibility, Valdes recommends doing them before your run, too.

Supine Stretch With Resistance Band
POPSUGAR Photography

Supine Stretch With Resistance Band

  • Start by lying flat on your back. Stretch out both legs, keeping a slight bend in your right knee to protect your lower back.
  • Wrap a resistance band around the middle of your left foot. (If you don't have a resistance band, a rolled up towel, light blanket, or the belt of a robe can also work here.)
  • Keeping your left leg straight, slowly bring it up to the ceiling as shown, holding the resistance band with your right hand. Make sure to keep your right shoulder and elbow on the floor as you do this.
  • Now, move your left leg across your body, lowering it toward your right side until you feel the stretch on the outside of the leg. Keep your hips on the floor and your core engaged.
  • Hold for 20 seconds before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the right leg, pulling it over to the left side to stretch. Do this stretch twice on each side.
Figure-4 Stretch
POPSUGAR Photography | Kyle Hartman

Figure-4 Stretch

  • Lie flat on your back. Raise your legs so your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Take your left ankle and cross it over, placing it behind your right knee.
  • Wrap your hands around your right thigh, and gently pull the right knee toward your chest. Keep your core engaged to prevent arching your back.
  • Stop when you feel the stretch and hold for 20 seconds. Lower the right leg back down to the ground.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, placing your right ankle behind your left knee. Do this stretch twice on each side.
Forward Bend
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Forward Bend

  • Stand behind a chair (in case you need it to help you balance), and cross your right leg over your left, making sure the right and left feet end up side by side.
  • Keeping your core engaged, exhale and slowly bend forward. Drop your hips back and keep your legs straight, with just a slight bend in that front knee.
  • Stop when you feel the stretch and hold for 20 seconds. As you slowly return to standing, remember to keep squeezing your abs.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, crossing the left foot over the right. Do this stretch twice on each side.