Iliotibial Band Stretch and a Hip Replacement

Stretching the hips, including the ITB, feels good and increases joint mobility.

Hip replacement surgery usually results in a joint that will last for 15 years or more. Around 200,000 surgeries occur annually with the main goal to reduce pain from hip disease, according to the Georgetown University Hospital Joint Reconstruction Center. Stretching the iliotibial band is a small but important part of rehabilitation from surgery, though iliotibial band exercises are not part of the initial phases of rehab.


ITB Anatomy

The iliotibial band is a thick band of fibrous tissue that starts at the hip, goes down the outer thigh, crosses the side of the knee joint and connects to the shinbone. The band stabilizes the hip and knee joint. High-impact activities, especially running, place stress on it. Patients commonly experience ITB tightness after a hip replacement, which restricts joint mobility.


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Seated IT Stretches

During the third phase of recovery from total hip replacement, lying iliotibial band stretches in a face-up position are safe. This phase typically lasts 10 days to six weeks, but ask your physician or physical therapist if you are ready before trying these exercises. An example of a supine iliotibial band stretch is the lying crossover stretch. To perform this stretch, lie on your back and cross the leg on your affected hip over your good leg to rest your foot on the floor with the knee bent. Gently pull the knee across your body with your opposite hand until you feel a stretch in the iliotibial band on the outer hip and hold for 30 seconds.


Standing ITB Stretches

Standing stretches for the iliotibial band are possible typically around 12 weeks after a total hip replacement surgery. You must safely be able to bear weight before doing these stretches. An example of a standing iliotibial band stretch is basically a standing version of the lying crossover stretch. Stand up and cross your good leg in front of your affected leg with both knees straight. Then, bend forward from the waist until you feel a stretch in your affected hip. Hold for 30 seconds.


Foam Rolling

Stretching does not release knots in the muscle tissue, but foam rolling does. Foam rolling the iliotibial band along the outer thigh releases tension as well. A foam roller is an inexpensive piece of exercise equipment that is a roll of hard, dense foam. The roll is a self-massage tool that, when rolled along an area of your body, releases knots and tension. Your body weight against the foam provides pressure for release. Simply lie sideways with the foam roller under your hip bone, your legs stacked and both hands on the floor with the arms straight so that your chest and shoulders face the floor. Use your arms to pull yourself forward so the foam roller rolls down your outer thigh.



references & resources

Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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