MEET THE ILIOTIBIAL TRACT
Introducing the IT band, the fibrous band that extends from the hip down past the knee, along the outer thigh and is made up of an elastic connective tissue known as fascia. The IT band is a knee stabilizer. The IT band is also essential for movement as it connects the hip to the knee. This band arises at the tendons of the gluteus maximus and the tensor fasciae lata and travels down toward the foot where it attaches to the tibia/shin bone.
The IT band makes it possible for the tensor fasciae lata to perform abduction (moving leg toward midline) and medial rotation. While running the IT band moves across the lateral epicondyle (protrusion on the bone) of the femur/thigh bone and functions to create stabilization of the knee. It can also create pain and inflammation when it continuously rubs across the bone.
This often causes knee pain and the person can mistake it for a knee injury. Tightness of the hip muscles are often the causes of the IT band becoming tight. Massage on these muscles can greatly reduce pain by loosening up the band and allowing the rubbing to lesson. The scar tissue that can occur in the IT band from overuse and injury can also be alleviated by massage techniques.
Many times the IT band gets “stuck” to the outer quadriceps muscle (vastus lateralis) and can cause pain in the outer thigh and restrict movement. A skilled therapist will be able to assist you in reducing tension, pain and postural deviations in the hip by preforming various techniques to address the tensor fasciae lata, vastus lateralis and gluteus muscles that attach to the IT band.