Using Yoga to Repair Damaged IT Bands
Written by Allison Gamble.
Stretching exercises like yoga provide a wealth of health benefits and can encourage flexibility, increase blood circulation and decrease your risk of injury when participating in athletic activities. Yoga can be very helpful for individuals who suffer from iliotibial (IT) band injuries because it can relieve pain through mediation, promote healing and strengthen the hip and legs.
About the Iliotibial (IT) Band
The IT band is a group of dense tissue that runs from the hips, along the thigh and down the outer edge of the leg. These muscles are used during walking and running, and work in conjunction with the other major muscle groups in the legs and knees. When the IT band becomes inflamed, it can become especially difficult to squat, use the stairs, or lift and lower your seat. Because the IT band works as a stabilizing muscle group, it can become easily injured from overuse, repetitive motion, or from over-training.
Benefits of Yoga for IT Band Injuries
Some might be surprised to find there are many health benefits associated with regular stretching. Stretching exercises like yoga improve flexibility, increase range of motion, keep your limbs limber and can help relieve stress and pain (and you don't even need a psychology degree to reap the benefits!). All it takes is proper form and meditation.
One of the most important components to yoga is breathing and meditation. While deep breathing can strengthen the lungs and increase lung capacity, meditation can help individuals better manage pain or reduce their sensitivity to pain. Using a meditation technique called mindful meditation, individuals suffering from pain can change the way their brain processes pain, thus lessening its effect.
One of the best yoga positions to promote overall physical repair and healing is viparita karani, also known as the legs up the wall pose. The viparita karani pose requires you to lie on the floor and place your legs vertically along the wall. When performing this pose, it is best to place a yoga mat or folded blanket underneath your bottom. Remember to leave approximately 3-6 inches of space between your bottom and the wall and then slowly push your bottom closer to the wall until your legs are completely straight. When using this pose remember to take steady breaths that flow deep into the belly.
Another pose that can help repair damaged IT bands is square pose. Square pose works to stretch the outer thigh and leg area, which can be very helpful for people suffering from IT band injuries. To perform square pose, sit on your yoga mat in a cross leg position, then place one of your legs parallel to the edge of the mat. Next, rest your other leg directly on top of the legs that is parallel to the mat to get your legs 'squared up.' Hold the position while you take deep, centering breaths.
If you suffer from IT band damage, don't despair. Through a combination of stretching exercise like yoga and guided muscle conditioning, you can quickly rehab and repair your muscles to get back to your active lifestyle. If you find you have frequent problems with your IT band, be sure to consult your physician before starting a new yoga regime.
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