What is ITB Syndrome “Hip Bursitits”

As your racing schedule heats up many of you will arrive in my office with “hip pain.”  What most people don’t know if that pain coming from your actual “hip joint” shows up in your groin.  The pain most runners attribute to their hip is acutally right over the outside of the femur bone and traveling down your leg.

You know this as either bursitis or IT Band syndrome but did you know you develop ITB (iliotibial band)  Syndrome because your butt is too weak to support your pelvis?!   During each step your body tries to stabilize the pelvis by tightening the muscle at the top of the IT Band, the tenser fascia lata, and tightens the ITBand itself.  This tightness can inflame the bursa (soft tissue sac) underneath the ITBand and actually effect both your stride and the fluid motion of your knee.

We can prevent and fix ITB syndrome with 2 easy solutions:  increasing Butt strength and Foam rolling your IT band.

Build a better Butt:

My favorite exercise for maximizing butt strength is called the monster walk and focuses on the all important gluteus medius. You will feel the burn just behind the lateral hip (greater trochanter).

Place a continuous exercise band around your ankles. Begin with your feet facing forwards and shoulder width apart.  Bend your hips and knees into a short arc squat and stick your butt out.  Now step to the right with the right foot and then to the right with the left foot.  Always keep tension on the band.  Repeat with10 steps to the right and then repeat to the left.  Perform 2 sets.

Other great Butt builders are found in this video:

“A weak Butt kills the runner.”

Stretch the IT band:

There are many stretches out there for the IT band but the only truly effective method I have found for lengthening this tight fascial tissue is foam rolling!  This is like giving yourself a deep tissue massage and will break up all the micro-scar tissue that keeps your IT band tight.

Lay with the side of your hip directly on the foam roller.  Using your upper body slowly pull your leg back and forth over the roller from your hip to your knee and back.

Let me warn you…this may initially hurt but it will hurt so good as it stretches out the stubborn ITB and increasing blood flow to the area.

You should foam roll problem areas daily before your workout.

Here is a video demonstrating foam rolling of the ITB

Stretch your Butt:

50 % of your Gluteus muscle inserts directly into the ITB.  If your butt is tight it will pull on your ITB and increase the friction. Prior to running you can use your foam roller to loosen up your butt.  After your run spend 30 seconds stretching each gluteus medius with the pictured stretch either standing or laying on your back.

 Ice massage:

When you finish a run and your post workout stretching, make sure you take to ice your hot spots.  I recommend my runners use ice “massage” instead of simply slapping a bag of ice on.  To do this, freeze Dixie cups of water ahead of time, peel back the paper and rub/massage the ice over your IT band for 20-30 minutes.  This minimizes inflammation and speeds healing by increasing circulation.


Hot spots, sore joints and ITB syndrome are not simply painful but centers for inflammation and the chemical defenses your body uses to protect and heal your tissues.  Too much inflammation is not great.  You can cool those hot spots and minimize the pain that comes with by using natural (omega 3 fish oil, tart cherry juice) or over the counter (advil, aleve) anti-inflammatories.

Follow these simple prevention and treatment tips and you are going to eliminate IT band syndrome and bursitits.