April 06, 2023 5 min read
The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a length of tissue extending from the pelvis to the knee and shin. It provides stability and mobility to the knee, in addition to strengthening the thigh muscles and promoting hip mobility and lateral motion.
Your ITB is fundamentally necessary for day-to-day activity, so proper care should be taken to support it, particularly if you are enduring a strenuous training period or are suffering from a muscular deficiency. Overworking the ITB can lead to soreness, making it difficult to perform simple activities.
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is a common overuse injury that occurs when the iliotibial band, a thick band of tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh, rubs against the knee. It is often caused by repetitive running or cycling, and can be aggravated by activities that involve a lot of downhill running or pivoting.
The symptoms of ITBS include pain and tenderness on the outside of the knee, which is usually worse when you run or cycle. You may also notice swelling and inflammation in the area.
If you think you have ITBS, it is important to see a doctor or physical therapist to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. Treatment for ITBS usually involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). You may also need to modify your activities to avoid aggravating the injury. In some cases, physical therapy may be recommended to help strengthen the muscles around the knee and improve flexibility.
Here are five exercises that can help you rehabilitate from ITBS:
It is important to start these exercises slowly and gradually increase the number of repetitions as you get stronger. If you experience any pain, stop the exercises and consult with your doctor or physical therapist.
Why foam rolling the IT band itself isn’t that useful - The IT band is a thick, fibrous band of collagen tissue that runs along the outer side of the leg and attaches to the side of the knee. It is not capable of stretching or contracting like muscle fibers; rather, it is the attached muscles (glutes, tensor fascia latae, lateral quads) that pull it tight when they are in tone.
Focusing foam rolling efforts solely on the IT band is ineffective for relieving tightness; rather, you should work to relax the attaching muscles.
What muscles should you foam roll if your IT band feels tight - The muscles associated with the IT band that can be targeted to decrease its strain include the glute max, glute med, TFL (tensor fascia latae), and the lateral quad. For my own glute usage, You can also apply a massage ball in lieu of a foam roller, though this is only a matter of preference.
How long should you foam roll for?
At present, research aims to employ the following strategies:
Why foam rolling over the IT band is so painful - The IT band possesses an abundance of tiny nerve endings and minimal soft tissue support, since this region of the leg lacks muscle and fat. Consequently, applying foam rolling to this area is often painful due to the pressure that is exerted on the sensitive nerve endings between the thigh bone and the foam roller.
How to use a foam roller for IT band syndrome - Foam rolling can provide temporary reprieve from the pain and tension of IT band syndrome, but long-term resolution requires tackling the root source. Our article outlines various treatments for this condition.
Foam rolling specifically to treat IT band syndrome should concentrate on the glutes, TFL, and lateral quads, as previously discussed. Do not apply pressure to the side of your knee that has pain as this can worsen IT band syndrome, which stems from increased compression between the IT band and the femur.
Massage can be a helpful part of the rehabilitation process for ITBS. Massage can help to reduce pain, inflammation, and muscle tension. It can also help to improve range of motion and flexibility.
If you are considering massage therapy to help with ITBS, it is important to find a qualified massage therapist who is experienced in treating sports injuries. The therapist should be able to assess your injury and develop a massage treatment plan that is right for you.
Here are some of the benefits of massage therapy for ITBS:
If you are experiencing pain from ITBS, massage therapy may be a helpful part of your rehabilitation. Be sure to find a qualified massage therapist who is experienced in treating sports injuries.