I.T. Bands and Athletes

If you are a dancer, cyclist, runner, walker, or any other type of exerciser, you may struggle with an I.T.band issue. What is the I.T. band and what is its syndrome?

Iliotibial band syndrome, or ITBS, is due to inflammation of the iliotibial band, a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the leg. The iliotibial band begins at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee joint. The band functions in coordination with several of the thigh muscles to provide stability to the outside of the knee joint. Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) occurs when there is irritation to this band of fibrous tissue. The irritation usually occurs over the outside of the knee joint, at the end of the femur (thigh) bone. The iliotibial band crosses bone and muscle at this point; between these structures is a bursa which should facilitate a smooth gliding motion. However, when inflamed, the iliotibial band does not glide easily, and pain associated with movement is the result. Johnathan Culett M.D.

Common symptoms of ITBS include:
Pain over the outside of the knee joint
Swelling at the location of discomfort
A snapping or popping sensation as the knee is bent

Endurance athletes are especially prone to developing iliotibial band syndrome. Athletes who suddenly increase their level of activity, such as runners who increase their mileage, often develop iliotibial band syndrome as well. Even if you are not an athlete, these four magic stretches are great for you. Please warm up thoroughly with Sun Salutes or a brisk walk or run before stretching.

Read below for 4 awesome stretches in yoga to help solve these issues!

Four magic stretches to lengthen your legs and release tight I.T. Bands = remember however in case of injury: RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).

Magic Stretch #1 Pigeon Pose (demonstrated in photograph above)
1)Begin on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips, and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Slide your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist; at the same time angle your right shin under your torso and bring your right foot to the front of your left knee. The outside of your right shin will now rest on the floor. Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and descending the front of the thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Position the right heel just in front of the left hip.
2)The right knee can angle slightly to the right, outside the line of the hip. Look back at your left leg. It should extend straight out of the hip (and not be angled off to the left), and rotated slightly inwardly, so its midline presses against the floor. Exhale and lay your torso down on the inner right thigh for a few breaths. Stretch your arms forward.
3) Then slide your hands back toward the front shin and push your fingertips firmly to the floor. Lift your torso away from the thigh. Lengthen the lower back by pressing your tailbone down and forward; at the same time, and lift your pubis toward the navel. Roll your left hip point toward the right heel, and lengthen the left front groin.
4) If you can maintain the upright position of your pelvis without the support of your hands on the floor, bring your hands to the top rim of your pelvis. Push heavily down. Against this pressure, lift the lower rim of your rib cage. The back ribs should lift a little faster than the front. Without shortening the back of your neck, drop your head back. To lift your chest, push the top of your sternum (at the manubrium) straight up toward the ceiling.
5) Stay in this position for a minute. Then, with your hands back on the floor, carefully slide the left knee forward, then exhale and lift up and back into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose). Take a few breaths, drop the knees to all-fours on another exhalation, and repeat with the legs reversed for the same length of time.

Magic Stretch #2 Wide Legged Stretch
1)Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), facing one of the long edges of your sticky mat, then step or lightly hop your feet apart anywhere from 3 to 4 1/2 feet (depending on your height: taller people should step wider). Rest your hands on your hips. Make sure your inner feet are parallel to each other (toes in; heels out). Lift your inner arches by drawing up on the inner ankles, and press the outer edges of your feet and ball of the big toe firmly into the floor. Engage the thigh muscles by drawing them up. Inhale and lift your chest, making the front torso slightly longer than the back. 2)Exhale and, maintaining the length of the front torso, lean the torso forward from the hip joints. As your torso approaches parallel to the floor, press your fingertips onto the floor directly below your shoulders. Extend your elbows fully. Your legs and arms then should be perpendicular to the floor and parallel to each other. Move your spine evenly into the back torso so that your back is slightly concave from the tailbone to the base of the skull. Bring your head up, keeping the back of the neck long, and direct your gaze upward toward the ceiling.
3)Push your top thighs straight back to help lengthen the front torso, and draw the inner groins away from each other to widen the base of your pelvis. Take a few breaths. As you maintain the concavity of your back and the forward lift of your sternum, walk your fingertips between your feet. Take a few more breaths and then, with an exhalation, bend your elbows and lower your torso and head into a full forward bend. Make sure as you move down that you keep your front torso as long as possible. If possible rest the crown of your head on the floor.
4) Press your inner palms actively into the floor, fingers pointing forward. If you have the flexibility to move your torso into a full forward bend, walk your hands back until your forearms are perpendicular to the floor and your upper arms parallel. Be sure to keep your arms parallel to each other and widen the shoulder blades across the back. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
5) Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. To come out, bring your hands back on the floor below your shoulders and lift and lengthen your front torso. Then with an inhalation, rest your hands on your hips, pull your tail bone down toward the floor, and swing the torso up. Walk or hop your feet back into Mountain Pose or Tadasana.

Magic Stretch #3 Extended Hand to Foot Pose
1)Lie supine on the floor, legs strongly extended. If your head doesn't rest comfortably on the floor, support it on a folded blanket. Exhale, bend the left knee, and draw the thigh into your torso. Hug the thigh to your belly. Press the front of the right thigh heavily to the floor, and push actively through the right heel.
2)Loop a strap around the arch of the left foot and hold the strap in both hands. Inhale and straighten the knee, pressing the left heel up toward the ceiling. Walk your hands up the strap until the elbows are fully extended. Broaden the shoulder blades across your back. Keeping the hands as high on the strap as possible, press the shoulder blades lightly into the floor. Widen the collarbones away from the sternum.
3)Extend up first through the back of the left heel, and once the back of the leg between the heel and sitting bone is fully lengthened, lift through the ball of the big toe. Begin with the raised leg perpendicular to the floor. Release the head of the thigh bone more deeply into the pelvis and, as you do, draw the foot a little closer to your head, increasing the stretch on the back of the leg.
4)You can stay here in this stretch, or turn the leg outward from the hip joint, so the knee and toes look to the left. Pinning the top of the right thigh to the floor, exhale and swing the left leg out to the left and hold it a few inches off the floor. Continue rotating the leg. As you feel the outer thigh move away from the left side of the torso, try to bring the left foot in line with the left shoulder joint. Inhale to bring the leg back to vertical. Lighten your grip on the strap as you do, so that you challenge the muscles of the inner thigh and hip to do the work.
5)Hold the vertical position of the leg anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, and the side position for an equal length of time. When you bring the leg across the body in a diagonal, you will feel the I.T. Band stretch and lengthen. Remember to push through the heel.
6)Once you have returned to vertical release the strap, hold the leg in place for 30 seconds or so, then slowly release as you exhale. Repeat on the right for the same length of time.

Magic Stretch #4 Eye of the Needle
1) Begin by lying on your back on a yoga mat, clean towel or clean spot of carpet on the floor. Bend both knees so that your feet are flat on the floor in front of your sitting bones.
2) Go through the fundamental steps of any yoga pose, first softening, and then drawing in. Let the breath lengthen the sides of your torso, and fill you up and expand you on all sides. The touch of the floor beneath you can help you to feel whether the breath is expanding in your back body.
3) Place your right ankle in front of your left knee, as you might rest it there if you were sitting in a chair. The knee and lower leg will be pointing out to the right, perpendicular to the lines of the left leg. Flex the foot and make the ankle strong. Let the foot be in standing position, or tadasana foot, with the toes active and spreading. Proper action of the foot and ankle here are crucial to the safety of the knee joint.
4) Keeping the steady action of your feet and ankles, especially on the right side, draw your left knee gently towards your chest. Reach your left hand around the outside of your left leg, and thread your right hand through the space between your two thighs. This is the eye of the needle. Clasp your hands around the left knee, at the top of the shin bone. If you cant hold the shin bone and place your shoulders back on the floor, hold your hamstring - the back of the thigh just above the knee.
5) Go through step one again, gently, even lovingly, hugging in around the expansion of your inner body. Create a safe container for what you are asking your hips to let go of. Then, press the left knee or thigh firmly into the resistance of your hands as you draw your knee slowly toward your chest. The moment that the tension in your hips begins to compromise the action of the ankles and feet, back off one smidge, and hold the pose, and breathe. Soften your jaw. Remember the fundamentals. Maintain the push pull resistance of your hands and left knee throughout. (This is what creates the IT band stretch.)
6) Breathe slowly, through your nose. Deepen the pose by maintaining the steady action of the ankle while moving your right knee away from your right shoulder
Thanks to Yoga Journal for breaking down these postures!

Jeanne K. Doss; call 918-371-3841 to reserve a spot in our yoga practices this week. Go to www.meetup.com and search for Tranquility Yoga in Owasso; you will find a current schedule.
Registered Yoga Teacher - Yoga Alliance
Personal Certified Trainer - Cooper Institute
Certified Pilates, Aerobics Instructor
Zumba Training
"The point is that in your life, unless you make specific time for something that you feel committed to, you will always have other obligations and you will always be too busy." — Dalai Lama


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