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Get Rid of IT Band Pain with These Yoga Poses

I often have athletes tell me that they have pain on the outside of their thighs and/or the side of their knee. In most cases this means they have some sort of inflammation of their IT Band.

The abbreviation IT band stands for the iliotibial band, which is not a muscle but a fascia. It runs along the outer side of your thighs, connecting your pelvis to your knee.

Fascia is made up of multiple layers of tissue with liquid in between called hyaluronan. It is designed to stretch with movement, but sometimes the fascia can thicken and become sticky thus limiting mobility and causing pain and tightness. (

Pain and irritation in the IT band is usually caused by too much training volume, especially running, or increasing run mileage too quickly. I often get athletes that want more and more training volume especially at the beginning of their program due to the excitement of completing an Ironman or 70.3. They think that more volume means better, faster, and stronger, although that can backfire and lead to overuse injuries.

Another cause of IT Band pain and tightness can be a lack of flexibility in the surrounding muscles. The tightness begins to pull on the band, causing inflammation and therefore pain. In other words, the tension in the IT Band is a result of the tension in the muscles that attach to it. These muscles include the tensor fascia latae (hip flexors), glute medius and maximus, outer hamstrings, and gastrocnemius.

What to do for IT Band pain? My answer is yoga and PiYo poses that stretch and strengthen the surrounding muscles to the IT band. Both Yoga and PiYo lengthen and stretch your muscles to increase mobility and flexibility. I love doing yoga in a hot room for a deeper stretch. The poses I am showing you below are my favorites.

1. Standing Quad Stretch (Dancer pose)

2. Cowface Pose

3. Standing figure 4

4. Pigeon pose

5. Supine twist with IT Band stretch

6. Camel pose

7. Seated figure 4

8. Extended hand to toe

9. Reverse triangle pose

10. Ankle crossed forward fold

I’ve found that practicing yoga and PiYo even just once or twice a week can make a big difference in overall flexibility and mobility. I even go as far as to incorporate yoga or PiYo on rest days for my athletes.

If you want to add flexibility training into your weekly triathlon routine, you can get the PiYo workout here:

Need a coach for your next 70.3 or 140.6? Click the purple box below to set up a free 15 minute chat with me about your goals!

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

USA Cycling Coach

ACSM Trainer


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