In my quest for getting my IT band back to normal… I’ve come up with the following workout to help strengthen my legs and hopefully get me back running soon. For more informatin on IT band friction Syndrome (ITBFS) go here.
Research shows that weak hips are to blame for lower leg injuries. The following strength exercises will help strengthen the glutes, hips and quads and should help towards healing ongoing IT Band issues.
Some of the exercises can be done with a resistance band, and the exercises should be done for a set number of reps or time period. (20 – 100 reps or 30 seconds – 1 minute). Ideally you want to work it so that the muscles are worked hard and as a result they will become stronger.
The more often you do the exercises you should increase the time or number of reps you complete to enable you to progressn and get your legs stronger.
Here are my top 12 strengthening exercises which can help with IT band injuries:
- Side Steps
- Single Leg Squat
- Walt Reynolds ITB Special (Hip Hikes)
- Forward Lunge
- Gym Ball Squat
- Side Lunges
- Single Leg Hip Raise (Pelvic Bridge)
- Flutter Kicks
- Donkey Kicks
- Lateral Leg Raises
- Clam Shells
- Iron Cross
Here are some stick men drawings of some of the exercises:
See the descriptions of all the exercises below:
With a band around your ankles and knees slightly bent, take ten steps laterally. The band should be tight enough so it provides constant resistance during all steps. Still facing the same direction, take another 10 steps back to your starting position. That is one set. Repeat 5 times. This exercise will look like a slow-motion version of a basketball “defense” drill.
Single Leg Squat
Stand on your right foot, hold your other leg out in front of you. Slowly bend your right leg, lowering your body down to squat on your right leg, and back up. Repeat with the other leg.
Walt Reynolds ITB Special (Hip Hikes)
Stand on your right foot. With your pelvis in a neutral position, drop the left side so it is several inches below the right side of your pelvic bone. Activate your right hip muscle and lift your left side back to its neutral position. You can do this either on a step to allow the moving foot to drop lower than the other foot, or you can lift the moving foot back with a bend in your knee. Repeat with the other leg.
Facing forward with your torso straight, step one foot forward about 18 to 24 inches. Immediately bend the knees and descend onto the front leg, allowing the back knee to come close to the ground. Keep the weight on the front heel and maintain a straight torso. Push back up with the front heel and return to the standing position. Move smoothly and keep a straight posture. Repeat with the other leg.
Stand with your back to the wall and your feet hip width apart, toes pointing straight forwards. Place the ball between your lower back and the wall. Start to bend the knees and lower yourself down into a squat position, the ball will roll down the wall with you. Keep your back parallel to the wall and stop once your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should not move forwards past your toes, if they do, stand further from the wall. Push yourself back up to the starting position.
Stand with your feet parallel facing forward and hip-width apart. Position your hands where comfortable to help you maintain your balance during the exercise. Inhale and gently lift your right leg, slowly stepping to the right while keeping your weight over your heels and both feet facing forward. Once your right foot is firmly placed on the floor, bend at the hips, pushing them backwards while simultaneously shifting your weight towards the right foot. Your left leg should be near, or at full extension at the knee and your body weight should still be distributed into the right hip. The heels of both feet should stay flat on the floor. Repeat with the other leg.
Single Leg Hip Raise (Pelvic Bridge)
Lie on your back with your weight on your upper back your feet. Your legs will be bent at the knee. Lift one leg so your weight is all on one leg and your back. Lower your butt almost to the ground and thrust upward by activating your glutes. This exercise is great for glute strength and hip stability. Repeat with the other leg.
Lie down on your back on the mat. Extend your legs out in front of you. Gently push your lower back against the mat. Lift your head and shoulders slightly off of the mat and look forward. Lift your feet 6 inches off of the floor. Tuck your arms under your hips for additional lower back support. Alternate kicking your left and right leg up and down in a slight, rapid motion. Drop your feet close to the ground, without touching it, to intensify the exercise.
Kneel with your elbows and knees on the floor. Keeping your right knee bent, slowly lift that leg behind you so your foot raises up toward the ceiling. Return to start position. Repeat with the other leg.
Lateral Leg Raises
Lie on your right side (with a band around your ankles if you want). Lift your left leg to about 45 degrees in a controlled manner, then lower. Repeat with the other leg.
Lie on your right side (with your knees together and a band around your lower thighs if you want). Your thighs should be about 45 degrees from your body and your knees bent at 90 degrees. Open your legs like a clam shell but don’t move your pelvis – the motion should not rock your torso or pelvic girdle. Keep it slow and controlled. Repeat with the other leg.
This dynamic stretch will help you feel loose after the previous strength exercises. Lie on your back with your arms out to your sides and swing your right leg over your torso and up to your left hand. Repeat with the other leg.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when doing this strength routine:
- If you currently have IT band pain, you can do this routine as often as every other day.
- Always modify the number of reps or recovery period if you need to.
- Even if you don’t have ITBS, you can do this routine 1-2 times per week for overall leg strengthening.
- Increase reps or add weight to any exercise to increase its difficulty.
I’ll add come links to demonstrations of each exercise when I get a minute.