Why NOT to foam roller your IT-band
Updated: Mar 2
Marathon season is upon us, which means lots of runners (and other sports people) will be subjecting themselves to way more pain than is actually necessary with their foam roller. Trust me, I was one of them when I trained for the London marathon in 2017 (yep, go me)!
The iliotibial (IT) band is a MASSIVE thick tendon and foam rolling won’t stretch it or ease its tension. Your IT band runs down the outer side of the thigh from a fleshy muscle at your hip, called the ‘tensor fascia latae’ (TFL) and your gluteus maximus muscle, to your tibia (lower leg bone that is part of the knee complex). Hence the term 'runners knee'. (Image c/o F.H Netter, Atlas of Human Anatomy).
It's important to roller your thigh (quad muscles), just not the very outer edge. Rolling this highly sensitive, nerve innovated structure can be excruciatingly painful - but the worst part is, rolling doesn't actually ‘relax’ or ‘loosen’ the IT band to any beneficial amount! So why keep doing it?
The best way to ease hip and/or knee pain can be far less painful and heaps more effective. Simply apply the roller to the front/side of your hip and roll over the fleshy TFL muscle. Then move the roller to the gluteus maximus/buttocks and roller there too. Make sure to focus on the TFL, the roller will relax the muscle and effectively reduce the overall tension running along the IT band.
Go ahead and try it! It’s a game changer.