Iliotibial (IT) Band: Definition and What It Does

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Maureen Lu, PT, DPT

Iliotibial (IT) Band Definition and Meaning

The iliotibial (IT) band is a long band of fascia (a sheath of connective tissue that supports every part of your body including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and organs) that extends from your hip region to just below the outside of your knee, attaching to the upper shin (tibia) while also attaching to the outside of your kneecap, lateral quad, and hamstring. 

The IT Band is a significant part of the body's musculoskeletal system, connecting the pelvis to the tibia through the lateral aspect of the thigh. The primary function of the IT Band is to stabilize the knee during movement, from everyday walking to activities that involve running and cycling. When you bend and extend your leg, your IT band moves over the outer edge of your thigh bone, playing a crucial role in the stability and movement of the leg.

Iliotibial (IT) Band Stretches 

Since your IT band is hard at work as you move throughout the day, it’s common for the fascia to get irritated, which can lead to a tight iliotibial (IT) band. It’s a good idea to stretch and mobilize the IT band regularly, especially before and after exercise. IT band stretches can include glute stretch and hamstring stretch. And one of the best ways to mobilize the IT band is to use a foam roller, gently massaging along the length of the IT band.

Common Iliotibial (IT) Band Conditions

One of the most common conditions associated with the IT Band is iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). This condition occurs when the band becomes tight or inflamed, often causing pain and tenderness along the outside of the knee. Runners, cyclists, and athletes who engage in repetitive knee flexion and extension are particularly susceptible to ITBS. 

Iliotibial (IT) Band: A Hinge Health Perspective

Your IT bands are integral to movement, and they can usually handle a lot of stress and strain. Occasionally, though, they can tighten up. The good news: IT bands are strong and resilient, and there's a lot you can do to help them relax and avoid further pain.

If you’re reluctant to move because you think you’ll cause more damage or injury to your IT band, know this: Movement is often the fastest way to healing. As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. Movement can help rehab the IT band by increasing blood flow, and gradually improving the fascia’s strength and flexibility

How Physical Therapy Can Help With Iliotibial (IT) Band Injuries

Physical therapy can aid in managing iliotibial band injuries. A physical therapist (PT) can recommend various exercises and stretches aimed at the hip and knee as well as techniques, like foam rolling and ice massage, to alleviate tension in the IT band and improve its flexibility. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Hadeed, A., & Tapscott, D. C. (2020). Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. 

  2. Beals, C., & Flanigan, D. (2013). A Review of Treatments for Iliotibial Band Syndrome in the Athletic Population. Journal of Sports Medicine, 2013, 1–6. doi:10.1155/2013/367169

  3. Jackson, J. (2023, March 15). Iliotibial Band Syndrome. UpToDate.

Related Terms