Should you foam roll an Illiotibial Band?

illiotibial band rollerWe see a number of people in the shop with Iliotibial Band Syndrome or “ITB”. Many a runner has been told to foam roll their band in the hope of getting rid of a rather painful running injury. Many of these athletes have been rolling up and down for ages with no improvement in their condition.

This begs the question, should you foam roll if your Illiotibial band is causing problems?

Let’s first look at the band.

The band is a long thick band of non-contractile tissue. The closest analogy to something outside the human body would be that of a belt.  The tensile strength of the band is immense being likened to that of steel. You cannot stretch or foam roll the band out! Iliotibial-band-syndrome

The band is attached to a number of muscles at the top. These include: tensor fascia latae, glut maximus and glut minimus muscles. If these tighten, the band tightens.

Toward the knee the band passes over the lateral femoral condyle and then attaches to gerdy’s tubercle

In my experience, the fibularis muscle often tightens when the ITB tightens. Although they are both separately attached to the top of the tibia, a kinetic chain often starts with tension experienced in both the lower leg muscle and on the band itself.

Concerns regarding Foam Rollers.

–          We have seen people who have rolled so long that the entire area is bruised. Traumatising the area like that will induce a widespread inflammation that can only make the condition worse.

–          We have also had runners and cyclists who have rolled directly over their hip joint and knee joint. Pressing the band onto the Lateral Femoral Condyle will only serve to further inflame the area.

–          Recent research indicates that the injury might come less from friction as the band passes over the knee, and more from pressure/compression caused by a tight band. Rolling over the area is therefore the worst possible thing you can do.

– If you have eaten too much and the belt around your pants is too tight, you have two choices:tight belt

1. Foam roll your belt.

2. Loosen the belt at the buckle. The iliotibial band needs to be released at the area of tightness which will always be somewhere in the hips.

So, what should you do?

  1. Concentrate on stretching the muscles that surround the hips. These include: glut medius, tensor fasciae latae and glut maximus.
  2. Go for a massage. Make sure that the muscles mentioned above are worked over. An experienced therapist will be able to locate areas of tightness and trigger points.
  3. Cut down on your running.
  4. Make sure that you are in the right shoes, and that your running gait does not increase your likelihood of injury.  (Our runners leg assessment will help with that. Call us on to make an appointment.
  5. In extreme cases, surgery is the only way out. The surgery is relatively simple and all work done takes place just under the skin. Banish any horror images that you might have of a surgeon digging around in the depths of your knee.

Must I throw my foam roller away?

No. They really are useful things. Use then on big muscle groups such as your calves, quads and hamstrings.

I really hope that this helps.


Mike Roscoe
Mike Roscoe

About sbrsport

SBR Sport specialises in Swimming, Biking and Running. On the medical side we are able to do intensive bike setups, leg assessments and soft tissue release. - and/or facebook -
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