Meet the Iliotibial Tract

Introducing the IT band, the fibrous band that extends from the hip down past the knee along the outer thigh. The IT band is made up of an elastic connective tissue known as fascia. The IT band is a knee stabilizer, connects the hip to the knee, and is essential for movement. This band arises at the tendons of the gluteus maximus and the tensor fasciae latae and travels down, toward the foot where it attaches to the tibia (shin bone). The IT band makes it possible for the tensor fasciae latae 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 stabilize the knee. The IT band can rub continuously across the bone; often causing knee pain that can be mistaken for a knee injury. The muscles of the hip being tight often are the cause of the IT band becoming tight as well. Asana 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 yoga asana. Many times the IT band gets “stuck” to the outer quadriceps muscles (vastus lateralis) and can cause pain in the outer thigh and restrict movement.