Stretches For Outer Hip and Knee Pain

The IT band is a band of fascia that runs from the outer hip to the outer knee. IT band tightness can be responsible for pains in the hip and knee. When I was working in the orthopedic clinic, so many people came in with hip pain. The majority of the time, it was greater trochanteric (hip) bursitis. Alternatively, if you’ve heard of “runner’s knee”, it may be irritation from the IT band near the knee (See picture below). Many times, a few simple IT band stretches can help prevent or relieve these conditions. 

Please note: there are many other factors to consider with these injuries and pain. Hip strength, core strength, back mobility, feet alignment, posture, among many others, all play a big part in the formation of lower body injuries. This is just one part of the whole picture. IT band stretches can offer relief and allow more mobility and loosening in the area. 

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IT Band Stretches

What is the IT band? It’s formally the Iliotibial band, referring to where it attaches (iliac) and where it inserts (tibia). It’s the band of fascia that runs along the outside of your leg, from the iliac crest (your hip bone) to Gerdy’s tubercle (which is a small bump below and slightly to the outside of your knee cap. It makes up the Tensor Fascia Latae, fascia or “muscle” technically that binds all the muscles that are around teh outer leg. You can imagine the types of problems caused if this is tight, pain and misalignment. The muscles that make up this area abduct the hip (move the leg away from the body). It is difficult to stretch a fascia area, but there are a few that may help. 

Runner’s Knee

This is an injury where the IT band irritates at the knee. It feels like outer knee pain. This often happens when knees are a little bowed or if you guessed it, running a lot. Basically there is a lot of tension on the IT band pulling on that area and causing irritation.


it band stretches

Hip Bursitis

This is an injury where the hip bursa is inflamed (the greater trochanter bursa), which is on the outside bony part of the hip. This bursa can become irritated with tight IT band and muscles in the area or misalignment, even with knock knees and foot posture.  There are many factors, as I stated, but outer IT band stretches will help. Commonly people will have pain laying on that side with this condition.

IT Band Stretches

Some may argue that the leg has to be straight with IT band stretches. We are trying to get around this area and anything that gets the outer hip will help.

To start, try 10-30 seconds about 1-3 times, whatever you’re most comfortable with. It is not a particular time frame you need to do. If you feel like you really need it, go longer. If you can only get in 10 seconds, that’s totally fine too. 

I categorized them as an easy, intermediate, or hard stretch. Most of us fit in the categories of needing easy and maybe some intermediate. I included one hard one for you folks that need an extra challenge. Remember we are all different. You may consider the easy one hard or the intermediate ones easy. Our bodies are different, so do what you can. If you feel any pain, stop!

Supine Outer Hip Stretch [easy]

This is my favorite and anyone should be able to do this one. If you don’t have a strap, I think you would probably at least have a towel or a belt to use. Don’t worry about how far up your leg gets, any position should work. 

  • Lay on your back with legs out straight
  • Bring right leg to chest and loop strap around your right arch
  • Straighten right leg and don’t worry how straight or close to your chest it is
  • Let right leg fall over left leg
  • You should feel a stretch in the outer hip

supine outer hip stretch

Sidelying Stretch [easy]

This one is done on a bed or couch with the leg hanging off the side. Be careful not to roll off! I took the picture on the mat to be consistent and you can really do it anywhere too. Many people will not feel this one but it’s important to consider all levels and abilities. 

  • Lay on your left side (side not being stretched)
  • Let the right leg fall behind you (again, a bed or couch gives it a little more ways to go)

sidelying stretch


Standing Outer Hip Stretch [easy]

This is another easy one that anyone should be able to do. Some more flexible may not feel this one either. This is similar to a basic hamstring stretch while focusing on the outer hip. 

  • Stand in front of a chair, or any other stable surface to put your leg on
  • Lift right leg up onto chair
  • Twist the body to the right and reach for the right leg, so you feel it along your right outer hip
  • Reach forward otherwise if it’s easier
  • Rest hand anywhere comfortable on leg

standing outer hip stretch

Figure 4 Stretch [easy]

  • Start seated with legs bent out in front of you use arms as a brace for behind
  • Cross the right ankle to meet the left knee
  • Feel a stretch in the outer hip

figure 4 stretch


Twisting Hip Stretch [intermediate]

This is my favorite stretch I try to do every day. To make it more effective, hold onto your ankle of the leg that’s crossed over.

  • Lay on your back
  • Bring your legs into a figure 4 position or see that stretch position above
    • Bring left ankle to right knee, keep ankle flexed
  • Let the body fall to the right as if you were doing a lower back twist
  • Hold onto the ankle and you will feel this deep in the hip
  • If it’s too much, let arms go out to the sides
  • Keep the left knee upright and pushing away

twisting hip stretch


Twisting Spine Stretch [intermediate]

This can be used instead of the twisting hip stretch seen below in the intermediate portion. 

  • Lay on your back
  • Cross the right leg completely over the left
  • Twist to the right
  • Use your right leg to push the upper left leg towards the ground
  • Be careful not to push directly on the knee

Twisting spine stretch


Pigeon Pose [intermediate]

This can be easy for some and very difficult for others. 

  • Bring the right leg across in front at the best 90 degree angle you can attempt
  • It’s okay if the lower leg is not parallel
  • Keep the left leg straight behind you
  • If you’re comfortable, let yourself rest down on your elbows
  • Feel free to put a block or cushion underneath the right butt to make it less intense

pigeon pose

Sitting Pigeon Pose [intermediate]

This one can be very intense especially if you are super tight.

  • Start sitting cross-legged
  • Bring the right leg over the left leg so the ankles and the knees are stacked
  • Make sure the ankles stay flexed to protect your knees (keeps muscles working so ligaments can stay protected)
  • If it’s too much, rest arms behind you to give yourself more space
  • If it’s easy, let yourself rest forward over your knees

Sitting pigeon pose

Lunge IT Band Stretch [hard]

This is another one of my favorites but it can be difficult, especially on the wrist.

  • Start in a low lunge position, right leg bent, left straight behind
  • Bring left arm to ground to hold yourself up
  • Turn the body to face the right
  • Reach right arm up while turning the weight to the outside of the right foot and the inside of the left foot, such as a side plank
  • Feel it in the right outer hip

Lunge IT band stretch


Bonus: Foam Rolling

Foam rolling the outside of the hip and help release some of the tightness and adhesion in the IT band fascia. Check out foam rolling exercises as well.

Lay on your side and roll along the outside of the leg. It is super intense doing this, so be aware!


IT band stretches


Useful Items For IT band stretches:




yoga mat
Yoga mat






Looking for more stretching ideas? Try Simple Stretches for the Lower Body and 5 of the Best Morning Stretches

Have you experienced outer hip or knee pain? What exercises helped you?

Fresh Fitness: Use these IT band stretches for preventing and relieving hip and knee pain. 


Let's get healthy together!


  • Laneybeachgirl

    September 15, 2018

    Maybe it’s just me, but I wish the stretch descriptions and photos told which side you are working on. Are all the photos depicting the same side?

    • Mindy Voet

      October 9, 2018

      The descriptions and pictures do describe the same side.

  • Pingback:Foam Roll Exercises To Help Improve Flexibility and Feel Good

  • I have such bad hip pain! These tips are great. I nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award on my blog! (:

  • Shelby @Fitasamamabear

    August 15, 2017

    My hips always need work! Thanks for the tips πŸ™‚ Also, just an fyi that I nominated your for the Blogger Recognition Award- thanks for being awesome! (

  • Geneva B. On The Go

    August 7, 2017

    I’m just getting into pilates and I’m learning a lot about the body especially with it comes to stretches, balance, and breathing. These are great tips you’ve provided and I appreciate the photos as demonstration.

  • Paige

    August 4, 2017

    I really find this valuable at the moment, thank you!

  • This is a great reminder for me, because I know that these stretches are so important for knee health. I just forget to do them. Pinning to my board so I’ll remember!

  • libby (@Our Play Palace Blog)

    August 4, 2017

    Great post. I will be sharing with my sister as she gets knee pains.

  • Shannon Sawicki

    August 1, 2017

    Some great information here! I incorporate most of these into my post run stretch one of my favorites is the Supine Outer Hip Stretch. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jacqueline

    August 1, 2017

    Very good advice for hip and knee. I know stretch daily helps to keep so much at bay that I am always surprised when people tell me they don’t stretch. I will incorporate some of the stretches seen here that I don’t do at the moment.

  • I constantl Have issue with my IT bands! I see some newbie stretched here that I will try!!!!?

  • Emily Morton

    July 27, 2017

    These are great stretches. I use them all the time especially after runs.

  • Christie

    July 26, 2017

    Great post! Thanks Mindy, I will start using these tips. My hips can get right after a workout. xx- Christie

    • Mindy Voet

      July 26, 2017

      Thanks! I hope these help loosen them up! πŸ™‚

  • Tina

    July 26, 2017

    Hi Mindy! Do you have any stretches for bicep tendonitis?
    PS – I visited your husband’s blog and I was dying by the time I was reading his sock post. My dogs were looking at me because they thought I had gone crazy! He should post more – he has a super weird sense of humor that is hysterical and totally its own niche!

    • Mindy Voet

      July 26, 2017

      Lol! πŸ™‚ Thanks! He is pretty funny if I do say so myself. I should do a post on shoulder stretches that would help you and maybe others. Stretches that kind of open the chest will help.

      • Tina

        July 27, 2017

        Thank you – that would be great!

  • Chloe

    July 26, 2017

    Hi, Great pictures and descriptions on how to do the stretches. It will save me having to go to a yoga class when time is tight.

  • InspiredJourney

    July 26, 2017

    Reading about the IT muscle and its connection point relative to the knee is enlightening.

    I’ll bookmark this to reference again, as I have a wonky left knee that drove me to PT appointments.

    I learned to use a stretchy band for strengthening, but have ceased to use it with any regularity.

    • Mindy Voet

      July 26, 2017

      Thanks! I hope it helps you. Understanding where it is makes more sense on why we do these things to help our pain!

  • HeyJillian

    July 26, 2017

    I love the combo of pictures and descriptions, this is super helpful content!


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