Why you Should NOT Foam Roll the IT Band!!!
Have you ever foam rolled your IT Band? You are probable not alone. Foam rolling is designed to relax contractile tissue like your muscles. The IT Band, or iliotibial band, is a thick Fascia/Connective tissue (NOT A MUSCLE) that runs along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee. Foam rolling connective tissue like the IT Band Does NOT break up knots or adhesions. People will say this is what's taking place, but numerous studies indicate otherwise. Actually breaking up adhesion would require far more force than what a roller can produce—and inflicting that much force may not be healthy for the tissue anyway.
Your Gluteus Maximus and Tensor Fascia Latae connect to the IT Band, and together help to move the hip and stabilize the knee. Improving extensibility of the muscles that have attachments onto this band may help with your symptoms.
Here are a couple locations you can roll out for IT Band syndrome:
1️⃣ Gluteus Maximus (The figure 4 stretch is a bit more aggressive for this one)
2️⃣ TFL (Come just under the iliac crest)
3️⃣ Vastus Lateralis (Come just in front of the IT band for this one)
The cause of this issue often times comes for poor glute muscle function. We would recommend following these mobilizations up with some glute work, particularly the hip abductors! Weak hip abduction strength evaluated by a hand held dynamometer has been associated with IT band syndrome in runners.
Note: The most common symptom is lateral knee pain caused by inflammation of the distal portion of the iliotibial band.
Citation: Hip abductor strength and lower extremity running related injury in distance runners: A systematic review. By: Mucha et al. 2017