If your first question is “what on earth is the ITB” then this post is definitely for you. Even if you feel you are all over it then you may be surprised there are a couple of quirky things about the ITB that people often overlook.
Firstly the ITB or Iliotibial band is a band of connective tissue that runs down the side of your leg. It is notorious for being very painful to the touch, especially when getting it massaged or foam rolling it. It can also cause pain in the outside of the knee and hip and can be one of the most obvious causes of pain in this region. It often gets really tight from things like running, cycling and jumping as it works to stabilise the hip and knee. It can also tighten up from lots of sitting and inactivity as it is a hip flexor and if you sit all day you basically shorten up the front/side of your hips.
The ITB is also known as the ITT or Iliotibial Tract (mostly Americans because they like to be different). More technically it is known as the Fascia Lata (not Latte). Fascia Lata basically means the lateral fascia. So the ITB is technically a thick band of fascia ( white connective tissue) on the outside of the leg. We have heard it incorrectly called the ITV or IBT. These are incorrect, but we know what they meant.
The ITB is important for stabilising the hip and knee.
The ITB is NOT a muscle. This is the most common myth you will hear about the ITB. Remember it is a band of fascia (the fascia lata). If you look at a muscular system poster or muscle anatomy book/app you will see that muscles are red (get lots of blood), whereas fascia, ligaments and tendons are white (not great blood supply).
The ITB is really like a big tendon from 2 muscles and it can be broken into 2 parts. The anterior (front) part and the posterior (back) part. The TFL or Tensor Fascia Lata (anterior) and the Glute Maximus (posterior) . The Glute Max has lots of attachments at the origin (the part of the muscle that doesn’t move) such as the pelvis, sacrum and Gluteus medius. The Insertion (the part that moves is the ITB and the gluteal tuberosity. Depending on what you read, some anatomy books say that around 80% of the ITB attaches to the Gluteus Maximus. The TFL muscle attaches to the pelvis at the origin (the part that doesn’t move), the insertion attaches to the ITB. So you can see both the TFL and the Glute Max both become the ITB.
So where does the ITB insert? The ITB inserts to place on the Tibia, just below the lateral knee joint called Gerdy's Tubercle. Just neat the lateral condyle of the Tibia, which is on the outside of the leg, just below the knee, in case you don’t know where the lateral condyle of the Tibial is. It also blends in with the insertion of the Vastus Lateralis which is the outside quad muscle and the connective tissue around the knee. From a fascia perspective the ITB also blends with the Tibialis Anerior and Peroneus Longus muscles becoming part of the lateral and spiral lines respectively. This shows that the ITB is heavily involved in lateral knee stability and also rotation of the tibia (lower leg bone