Your IT band is a connective tissue that essentially connects your hip to your shin down the outside of your leg.
Attached to the IT band is a muscle called your Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL). Your TFL helps to stabilise your knee and assists in hip abduction.
Hip abduction supports stabilisation of the knee during movements such as walking and running.
When it comes to hip abduction, the prime mover is your Glute Medius (upper, side of your buttocks), however this muscle is often weak (does not activate efficiently), which means that compensatory movements patterns are required e.g. TFL takes over during hip abduction.
As the TFL cannot do this alone, it relies on your IT band to tighten up to help stabilise the knee. When this occurs repeatedly, additional stress is placed on the IT band, which can lead to tightness or pain/inflammation.
With this is mind, foam rolling an already over-stretched/inflamed tissue is not going to do any good (typically foam rolling over the IT band is extremely painful/uncomfortable anyway).
Instead of foam rolling over this structure, focus on the following:
- Strengthen your Glute Medius (and Glute Max/Minimus while you’re at it).
- Massage/foam roll and stretch your TFL which is possibly overworked and tight.
For more information on self-care for your IT band or how Sport Massage can help, get in touch!
Photo credit GETTY IMAGES SEBASTIANGAUERT