ITB tension Causing Knee Pain and Hip Pain

by Julie Donnelly – The Pain Relief Expert

The ITB (Iliotibial Band) is blamed for knee pain and hip pain – but it’s a lot more than just the ITB causing the problem.  An incredible Ironman athlete asked me about tension in his Iliotibial Band (ITB) because he was just starting to have some pain in his hip.  I searched the archives and updated the following blog.  The muscle that is discussed, the tensor fascia lata, will cause both hip pain and knee pain, yet it is frequently overlooked. This blog is important enough to be re-cycled, I hope you’ll find an answer to your hip or knee pain.


The ITB (iliotibial band which inserts on your lateral knee) is a tendon and tendons don’t stretch. If a tendon could stretch, or contract, your joints would be in a lot of trouble. A tendon is a thick rubbery fiber that is there for one purpose only, to attach a muscle to a bone. When the muscle contracts it will pull on the tendon, and since the tendon doesn’t stretch it pulls on the joint and the joint moves. If the tendon could stretch, the muscle would pull, the tendon would stretch, and the joint wouldn’t move so you wouldn’t move.

The same is true for tight tendons, if the tendons could get tight on their own they would be pulling on the joint and the joint would bend and then stay there. In either case it doesn’t work if the tendon is flexible.

This man also said that he loves to go onto the foam roller to stretch his ITB and that it “hurts so good.” What he’s really feeling is the lateral quadriceps that are directly under the ITB. His quads are tight and the foam roller is pressing the hydrogen ions out of the fibers, and that does “hurt so good.”

Your ITB is actually tight because a muscle called tensor fascia lata is in spasm. The tensor fascia lata inserts into your iliotibial band (ITB) and is pulling up on the ITB, so you feel pain at your hip and your knee.  The tendon IS tight, but it’s only tight because of the tension your tensor fascia lata muscle is placing on the point where the muscle merges with the ITB.

The easy treatment for a tight ITB (shown in photo below) is:

1. put either the Julstro Perfect Ball,  a tennis ball, or a lacross ball (no baseball’s please, they are too hard) at the point that is right between your hip and thigh bones on the very outside of your hip. This is your tensor fascia lata muscle. Be very careful not to press into your bone.

2. Lie on the ball. It will hurt so adjust your pressure so you can ease into the ball, and then stay there either until the pain stops, or until you can’t take the pain anymore. Then get off the ball, take a few breaths, and then get back onto the ball. It will feel much better this time.
3. Take the ball and do the same treatment all around your sacrum and the top of your pelvis and thigh bone (femur) as your gluteus maximus also merges into the ITB.

If you want to learn how to treat the other muscles that cause hip pain and knee pain, I suggest you add Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living to your library!

Have a great day,

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