In the past couple of months I have been reading a couple of interesting research articles and positions from different health professionals on ITB foam rolling. Due to this I started to discontinue rolling the ITB with my athletes. I have been getting some great results from changing to a different approach, trigger point release and strength work. Many of the athletes come from different sporting backgrounds such as hockey, football and basketball who have complained of pain on the lateral side of their knee or pain on the front of the knee (sometimes referred as jumpers knees and Osgood Schlatter disease)
The main problem with foam rolling is that the ITB isn’t a muscle, it is fascia. So even though an ITB may feel tight (have tension) it won’t be short do to its attachment points. So why does it hurt when you foam roll your ITB? What you are actually doing is compressing the vastus lateralis (quadriceps muscle on the lateral side of the leg) and irritating the fat pad near the ITB. So what should you do instead of foam rolling the ITB? We need to look at what is causing the tension. What is causing the tension is the muscles that connect to the ITB fascia and that is the Gluteus Medius and the Tensor Fascia Lata. Also, looking at axillary muscles that may be changing the biomechanics of the lower limbs such as ankle mobility and the piriformis muscle (that will internally rotate the femur and make the gluteus medius weaker as the muscle switches off).
So in conclusion, what we want to do is strengthen muscles in the posterior chain (mainly your glutes) and release muscles that have a direct link on the ITB such as gluteus medius and tensor fascia lata. As well as, releasing axillary muscles such as the piriformis.
If you have questions about this topic don’t hesitate to comment or contact us. If you are having no progress on foam rolling your ITB try this new approach and let us know your feedback on this. If you would like to read more about this, specifically if you want more of the science behind it read this article by Andrew Franklin-Miller https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ilio-tibial-band-please-do-use-foam-roller-andrew-franklyn-miller
Sport and Exercise Scientist
BSpExSc, ESSAM, ASCA Coach
Vision Exercise Physiology – Sports Performance