Are you among those people who have foam rolled their IT band? You might do it to relieve the pain from your knee, hip, or coming from your upper leg. And, you are simply considering a foam roll since you wanted to increase your recovery and ease the pain on your upper thigh.

But, looking at it closely, you will see that it will not resolve your problem. Foam rolling may worsen your condition.

It’s essential that you will know the reasons why you shouldn’t foam roll your IT band and what’s the ideal solution.

What is an IT Band?

IT band or the iliotibial band or also known as an iliotibial tract or Maissiat’s band is a large tendon running along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee.  The gluteus maximus or glutes and tensor fasciae latae or TFL are connected to the ITB. Together these muscles are vital for the movement of the hip such as to extend, abduct, and to rotate.  They also help in stabilization and providing movement to the side of the knee while it’s protecting your outer thigh.

Why You Shouldn't Foam Roll Your IT Band? What You can Do?

Among the most common injury associated with your IT band is called an IT band syndrome.

What is an IT Band Syndrome?

You might already hear about IT band syndrome (ITBS). This is a common lateral knee injury. ITBS happens due to overuse and repetitive flexion and extension of the knees. This will cause the IT band to become tight and irritated and when you bend your knees this will become painful. You can even feel the pain up to your thigh.

What Causes the IT Band Syndrome?

ITBS is primarily caused by repetitive movements that lead to overuse injury. In this condition, the IT band is overly tight and rubs against the bone which causes friction, inflammation, and pain.

This can be an overuse injury from repetitive movements such as running, cycling, walking up or downstairs, or even by performing a squat in poor form. You can even develop these by sitting for a long period of time.

You are also prone to develop an ITBS if you have an existing injury, weaker hip, gluteal and abdominal muscles, knee arthritis, bowlegs, and flat feet. Also. you are at risk to develop this condition if you have a weak knee extensor, hip abductors, and knee flexors.

These are usually common to runners, cyclists, and hikers. Those athletes playing basketball, soccer, and weightlifting may also experience ITBS. But, always remember. these can affect anyone.

Among the common treatment for ITBS includes rest, cold therapy, stretching and doing some foam rolling. But, did you know that foam rolling should not be done within your IT Band?

So, Why Foam Rolling is not Ideal for Your IT Band?

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Although foam rolling is often recommended to loosen up a tight IT band, it shows that foam rolling can cause extreme pain and can lead to injury.

The better option is to work out on the tightness of your hip and leg muscles which will include your TFL muscle.

Foam rolling is effective to help a muscle relax and move more easily. One thing that can’t be applied with your IT band since as described earlier it is not a muscle. So, you can’t help it relax and break up muscle adhesions. So each time you foam roll your IT band you’ll be adding pressure to the nerve that runs through it. This causes inflammation, thus, you can experience pain.

To alleviate this pain you must avoid foam rolling so that you can’t add more pressure. But. what’s an effective solution to your tight IT Band?

How You Can Deal With Your IT Band Syndrome?

Since foam rolling is not effective to deal with ITBS, so you might be finding ways on how you can relieve the pain. How to effectively deal with ITBS?

The best option that you can work out is to apply foam rolling to the muscles that surround it. Among these muscles are your glutes, hamstrings, and your quads.

Quad Roll

Why You Shouldn't Foam Roll Your IT Band? What You can Do?

You can start this exercise by training one leg at a time. First, you must support your body weight in a press-up position by having a foam roller being positioned horizontally between your quads and floor. Then you can now begin to roll your quad muscles from your hip down to the knee. And, lastly, when rolling you have to pause and hold in every tight area – this can help in relieving tension.

Hamstring Foam Roll

Why You Shouldn't Foam Roll Your IT Band? What You can Do?

For this type of exercise, it is effective also to train one leg at a time. Start by sitting up and supporting your body weight with your hands and the foam roller which is under your hamstrings. Your feet must be straight out in front. Make sure also that your back remains straight. Then, slowly roll back and forth from your glute to your knee, you have to pause on every tight area. And finally, work on your entire hamstring muscle by moving from side to side.

Glute Foam Roll

Why You Shouldn't Foam Roll Your IT Band? What You can Do?

To do a glute foam roll, start by sitting on top of your foam roller. Then. place your left foot at the top of your right knee and hold it in place with the right hand while your left hand is behind you. Then, begin by slowly rolling forward – with this you will be able to feel the stretch within your glutes. And, finally, reverse the movement of your foam roller. By the way, this is ideal to start also with one leg at a time.

As you will see above there are still various types of foam roll exercises that can help your IT band issues. You can either do the glute, hamstring, or quad roll.

You may also ask, “what if foam rolling seems effective to me, can I continue”. If there are no issues associated with foam rolling your IT band, you may continue it. But take in mind that if you still feel the pain, then you need to seek help or reevaluate your routine. And for us, for countless patients with ITBS, it is effective to focus on the muscles that surround it.

More Foam Rolling Techniques for the Lower Body


Need some help?

If you are still having some pain or need some assistance in your IT band, you can count on us. At Evergreen Rehab and Wellness, we can help you with your ITBS, we have a licensed Physiotherapist and Kinesiologist that can provide you an ideal active rehabilitation program.

You may also book for our services online just click here.

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At Evergreen Rehab & Wellness – Coquitlam, we have registered Kinesiologists to help with your active rehabilitation needs.

We don’t only have Kinesiologists in Coquitlam, we also have Kinesiologists in Surrey that are always ready to provide patients in these areas with custom and high-quality care.

Moreover, we also have Kinesiologists in Langley that can help you.

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