Take the foam roller and slowly step away.

By Mirel Ketchiff
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Honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing with a foam roller. Whenever I break one out, I mostly just roll over whatever feels tight or achy, and I figure it something hurts, I'm probably in the right spot. So it was really only a matter of time until someone with more knowledge pointed out that not only was I not helping myself, but in all likelihood probably hurting myself with one of my go-to foam rolling techniques: rolling directly over my iliotibial (IT) band.

The IT band is a ligament that stretches from your pelvis and runs along the outside of your thigh all the way down to your shin. It's not uncommon for it to become inflamed or irritated due to overuse injuries, which can happen when you're running, cycling, or doing other types of exercise. And because it covers so much area in your body, injuries in the IT band can affect your hips, your knee, your shin, even your foot. When it's affected, it's common for people to think, as I did, that foam-rolling it (like you would do with a tight muscle) will help loosen any kinks and ease the pain.

I got my first clue that this was a no-no when I literally overheard someone in a gym locker room say that you're not supposed to do it. Later, when I asked Adrian Williams, the training and recovery program manager at Tone House, if what I'd heard was true, he said, "Very true!" Rats. So why not? "Your IT band is supposed to be rigid," he patiently explained. "It's the stabilizer for your knees' lateral movement. Making it 'loose' would be dangerous in any athletic environment, or everyday life." (5 Reasons You Should Try Fascial Stretching)

That doesn't mean you need to just suffer through IT band-created pain, though. "A large majority of the time, IT pain is from the surrounding muscles being tight-your piriformis, glutes, TFL [that's the tensor fasciae latae, a small muscle that sits right in front of the hip joint], hamstring, or quads. Start by rolling these areas, and see if that helps." (If not, try some of these IT-soothing yoga poses.)

Anything else? "Slow down when you foam roll!" says Williams. "Breaking the fascia requires you to slowly move over the tissue. Focus on your breathing, and take your time. Relaxing is the only way you're going to be able to get deep enough in the tissue to break it down and increase blood flow." Perfect time to practice that belly breathing technique.

Comments (8)

Anonymous
February 3, 2020
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Anonymous
February 3, 2020
It all begins here with gym St Kilda. Every day more than 40,000 Australians get a little fitter at Fitness First, their journey partner to a more fearless and extraordinary life.gym St Kilda gym is located in the St Kilda residential precinct on Alma Road. From the moment you enter our St Kilda gym, you'll experience the friendliness of the staff and an atmosphere that makes your training energetic and fun. Our gym St Kilda gym is a great place to try out the latest training techniques At 24/7 Gym In St. Kilda.....our Unique difference is....We do it Outdoors!
Anonymous
January 15, 2019
This article is complete garbage. The author is clearly entirely uneducated in anatomy and physiotherapy, and the main resource cited is a "trainer" (not a person involved in any area of science or research). Consider also the minor errors like saying that the IT band is a "ligament." Sorry, no, just no. Ligaments connect bone to bone; tendons connect muscle to bone. The IT band could be best characterized as a tendon. It's too bad the internet is increasingly filled with such useless information.
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Anonymous
March 30, 2017
Just happened ion this article looking for a new foam roller to use for my IT band. There is so much conflicting stuff out there when it comes to this stuff. I have been prescribed rolling out my IT Band and outer hamstrings daily to help with stress syndrome in my posterior tib. Over tightness in the ITB and Hamstrings are causing an over rotation of my shin causing the stress.