Cure a tight Iliotibial Band (ITB) with Foam Rolling and Myofascial Release

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial Band, IT Band, or ITB Sydrome is a pain condition that affects the side of your thigh and knee. It’s a common injury that typically affects runners, cyclists, hikers, and weight lifters, including people who do P90x and CrossFit. The IT Band is an indistinct part of the Fascia Lata, which supports and surrounds your thigh. This includes your quadriceps and hamstring. The fascia lata is about 1mm thick and the IT Band forms part of this, but when dissecting a cadaver there are no distinguishable lateral borders of the ITB.

The ITB is the section of fascial that begins at a muscle called the Tensor Fascia Lata (attached to your Ilia) and attaches to your knee at the bone in your leg call the Tibia. The function of the ITB and the Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) is to to flex, abduct, and medially rotate the hip. Your Gluteus Maximus, the largest hip muscle, also inserts along the IT Band.

When your pelvis is out of alignment or balance, the muscles are not working in sync. There can be more pressure and tightness in any of these muscles. This can pull harder on your knee causing an increase in friction as your knee flexes and extends. A syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms, like pain in the knee, or swelling and/or tightness. It is not a pathology like a ruptured ACL or torn hamstring. In a person who does this hundreds and thousands of times in a day, the IT Band can cause pain. This can be classified as IT Band Syndrome.

How do I Fix IT Band Syndrome?

Fix is a strong word, that assumes that IT Band Syndrome is the cause and problem that needs to be fixed. First we need to look at the rest of your body and figure out what else is contributing to the problem. Do you have pain elsewhere? Do you have any other current, recent or past injuries? Does this only bother you after a certain amount of time participating in your activity?

These are all questions a physical therapist can help you discover. We are going to look at a few common problems, work on treating those and see how it effects your condition. If something doesn’t feel right or this article is beyond the scope of your problems, please seek the advice of your local physical therapist. In almost all states you do not need a prescription for physical therapy. You can call a physical therapist directly to schedule an evaluation.

Should I Foam Roll?

Fist off, stop torturing yourself with a foam roller. Foam rolling an IT Band is painful and only causes a protective response and temporary results. Have you wondered why you always have to keep foam rolling your IT Band? If your primary concern is to release your IT Band, you are better off using a small ball. Remember that? It’s the muscle that actively tightens the ITB. It has contractile properties, the ITB does not.

For this technique, you should lie on the floor, on your stomach. You will use a tennis ball, raquet ball or small inflatable ball. Put it in your pocket. The TFL is located to the side of the boney prominence of your pelvis called the Anterior Superior Iliac Spine or ASIS. If you are working on your Right side, take your Left leg and bend your hip to 90 degrees and your knee to 90 degrees. It will help you roll to the right and maintain the correct amount of pressure. Once you find the tender spot, relax and let the ball sink in for a minimum of 3-5 minutes.

You should also work on your Glutes on the same side. More importantly you need to be sure your pelvis is balanced, your back is happy and anything else in your legs are in good shape.

About The Author

Aaron LeBauer

Dr. Aaron LeBauer is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Business Coach to 1,000's of healthcare entrepreneurs. He owns LeBauer Physical Therapy, LLC, with his wife Andra, in Greensboro, N.C. He has been helping active people stay fit, active, healthy and recover from injuries without needing more pain medications, injections or surgery since 1999.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field