Why ITB Stretches are not worth your time - Scott RolphThe Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a structure cursed by athletes and other sufferers alike. When injury arises a sufferer can be left with a great deal of pain and dysfunction. Now there are many ways to manage and treat conditions affecting the ITB including stretching however a lot of these methods are out-dated and are not worth your time. This article is a brief explanation of what the ITB is and its function allowing you to better understand how to effectively treat issues when they arise. The body has layers of fibrous connective tissue surrounding muscles called fascia- think tough “glad wrap.” The ITB is a longitudinal thickening of the fascia along the lateral thigh rather than a stand alone structure. It runs from the crest of the hip and inserts into the tibia just below the knee, with insertions from gluteal and hip flexor muscles around the hip. Based on its structure the ITB helps to stabilise the knee in different ranges of movement. Fascia is not a contractile tissue like muscle and therefore cannot become tight but rather it becomes overloaded- a misconception that allows the thought process of stretching being possibly effective. Problems involving the ITB usually involve overloading and this can be caused by:
- Abnormal gait mechanics eg. foot pronation, unequal leg length, bowed legs
- Poor technique
- Inappropriate footwear
- Running on slopped surfaces
- Changes to workload (particulary dramatic increases)
- Poor core and hip stability (remembering the ITB has insertions from the gluteal muscles and a hip flexor).