Why Foam Rolling Your ITB Is A Bad Idea
Your iliotibial band (ITB) is fascia- a non contractile tissue- meaning it doesn’t have the ability to shorten or lengthen on its own. It relies on the muscles that attach to it so foam rolling your ITB is the same as trying to roll out a piece of paper versus trying to roll out pizza dough. You want to roll out muscles as they act in the same manner as pizza dough; they have the ability to shorten, and most importantly, lengthen. This is the entire point of rolling out an area. What you should be rolling out are the muscles that attach to the ITB; the TFL (tensor fascia latae), gluts, and vastus lateralis (VL).
In order to effectively roll out the vastus lateralis- one of the quad muscles- you want to place your leg on a 45 degree angle to the roller. Do not place your leg directly on it’s side on the roller (as you have likely done in the past when believing rolling out the ITB was a good idea) as this will just glom the fascia right up against the VL and cause an inordinate amount of discomfort. Foam roll the TFL and gluts by placing the foam roller perpendicular to the muscle you want to roll.
The key to effective foam rolling is to ensure your muscles are already warm; never, never, never roll out a cold muscle! I advise my patients to foam roll after they have exercised and stretched. I suggest doing about 10-15 passes per muscle.
One of the most important tips to remember is to never foam roll an injured muscle.
Why do patients often think they should “roll out their ITB’s” in the first place? If you are a runner, cyclist, dancer, gymnast, or are active in any sports that relies heavily on your legs, you may be prone to ITB syndrome. This may affect your lower back, knees, quads, and the rest of the lower kinetic chain.
Stretching the TFL and foam rolling the aforementioned muscles will go a long way in preventing tight lower extremity muscles and ITB syndrome. If you would like to book an assessment to ensure you are performing optimally, please don’t hesitate to call or email the clinic.
Have a great day,
Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic