The iliotibial (IT) band is a very common culprit of knee and hip pain. One common reason why the IT band can be tight is because of the overuse of the tensor fascia latae (TFL) muscle that connects to it at the hip. This muscle is overused when you have weak hip abductors (mainly the gluteus medius but also the gluteus minimus and tensor fascia latae). 

The main hip abductor muscle of the body is the gluteus medius; if it isn’t strong enough to perform the job, the other hip abductors such as a gluteus minimus and TFL have to pick up the slack. Since the TFL inserts directly on to the IT band, this causes tension in the IT band. 

Tension in the IT band can be a cause of aching on the side of the thigh and outside of the knee. IT band tightness is a great example of a condition where you may experience symptoms in a certain area but the source of those symptoms is from an entirely different place! 

The main job of the hip abductors is to stabilize the hip and pelvis while walking or running. The hip abductors have to engage during the phase of walking where one of your legs is in the air mid-step. The hip abductors of the planted leg during mid-step must engage to hold your leg and torso in line. When there is weakness in the muscle group, then you may develop what is called the Trendelenburg Gait; this altered gait is characterized by a slight bend of the torso to the side to compensate for weakness in the hip.

Another sign that may indicate hip abductor weakness that may not actually cause pain is knee valgus, or “knocked-knee”. Knee valgus is most commonly seen in young women and older adults and could be a sign of hip abductor weakness. 

Due to the fact that we as a society are sitting for longer periods of time than standing, walking, or running, it is easy for our glutes to become weak due to underuse and underactivation. When you take into consideration how much we are sitting, no wonder we are developing these conditions!

In our office in Rochester, NY, we treat hip and knee conditions daily. With the proper targeted muscle work, joint mobilization, and strengthening regimen, we are able to properly improve and even reverse these conditions! If you have hip or knee pain, don’t hesitate to call our office and get a consultation!

Ryan Wong

Ryan Wong

Owner/Operator, Chiropractor

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