I get a lot of patients who spend a lot of time with knee pain and who spend even more time to rolling out their ilio-tibial band (ITB) with a foam roller. Now foam rollers are very useful pieces of kit but I’ve got to say this. They are no good on the ITB.
Before I explain why let’s give you a basic run down of what the ITB is. The ITP is a long, large, tensile structure that runs down the outer hip, thigh into the lower leg. It offers an anchor for muscles and crucially, stabilizes the lateral knee.
Now there’s the first clue as to why we shouldn’t roll. The ITB needs to be tight to give stability. Without tension the ITB-and the knee-become like a tent with loose guy ropes.
Secondly, foam rollers act to massage and the essential ingredient to success with massage is a good blood supply. The ITB is largely avascular, this means it has no-or little-blood supply thus making massage obsolete.
So what should we do? Remember those muscles earlier that attach to the ITB? Those are tensor fascia latae and gluteus maximus. People who enjoy regular exercise will use these muscles a lot and when a muscle gets used, it gets tight. So if you are getting ITB problems it pays to stretch these muscles out daily, even rolling them out with the roller is good as they (remember) have a plentiful blood supply! Another good pointer is that if you are getting ITB pain, there may be a correlation with weakness in the quadriceps muscles. Commonly, the inner most quadriceps (vastus medialis oblique) is weak with ITB band pain and may need strength work.
If you have outer knee and/or hip pain and think it may ITB related or if you simply have any questions from this blog get in-touch and I’ll be happy to offer advice and even-if required-take a look.