The iliotibial band (IT-band) is a long band of fascia on the outer portion of your thigh. This structure is primarily responsible for lateral stability of the knee. However, since the IT-band is fascia, it is prone to developing adhesions. When the IT-band develops adhesions, it becomes tense, creating a significant increase in tension on the entire outer portion of your thigh.

When this occurs, the tension will increase the activation of the outer portion of the quadriceps muscle group—a muscle called the vastus lateralis. When the vastus lateralis becomes overactive, it pulls harder than the muscle on the inner portion of your thigh—the vastus medialis.

Ultimately, the increase in tension on the outer half in comparison to the inner half will pull the knee cap slightly off track, resulting in a condition called patellar-femoral disorder. The knee cap slides slightly to the side and may feel like it is grinding against the bone underneath.

Procedures such as stretching, foam rolling, generic massage, and percussion massage will not be useful in providing a lasting release of tension in the IT-band. Instead, as mentioned earlier, you may experience transient relief or pain and/or tightness which returns within a week.