IT Band Foam Rolling: Does it Actually Help?
As an introduction to this blog, let’s identify what IT band foam rolling is. The purpose of foam rolling is to help relieve muscle tightness, soreness, or even inflammation of the foot. Depending on your condition, the benefits of foam rolling may range from effective to harmful. Overuse of the connective tissue tendon or weakness of the muscles can result in the injury of the iliotibial tissue (IT), causing a problem with the IT band. In some cases, using the foam roller to relieve the pain can be useful, if the condition is not too severe.
Now, IT band foam rolling helps in certain situations, such as when the condition is not severe. When it is a complex case, foam rolling can do more harm than good. If it’s not done right, it also will not help a lot. Foam rolling can help you in improving flexibility during workouts, but does not work as a recovery option in treatment. There are more effective ways to relieve your IT band than foam rolling.
IT Band Foam Roller: Foam Rolling the Right Way
You want to consider whether or not foam rolling will actually help you in relieving the tightness. Ideally, if you have mild pain from the tightness, then using a foam roller can be a good option. However, if you find yourself with severe pain, then do not use one. Look into other treatment options.
If you want to foam roll, then you ideally want to aim for areas that will affect your IT band, such as your glutes, hips, calves, or the hams (the region behind the knee). There are some exercises you can try with a foam roller, such as overhead squats, table rolls, hip thrusts, and side leg raises. Consult your physician if you plan on using a foam roller for your IT band.
5 things you need to know about your IT band
- Poor alignment during exercise and throughout the day can lead to IT band syndrome
- Your IT band is a fascial tissue that acts of a fascial outer layer for your quadriceps
- Wearing high heels or even sitting cross-legged often can irritate your IT band
- Sitting around a lot causes muscle weakness in the hips and hamstrings, which in turn, irritates your IT band
- When your IT band is aggravated from stretching of the muscles, you’re probably not stretching the IT band, but instead, the muscles around it
Should I use a foam roller before or after a workout?
Studies show that using a foam roller is best before a workout, as it provides flexibility to the muscles during the workout. Just how a foam roller does not relieve the aftermath of an IT band, it will not be useful after a workout. You’ll be feeling better during your workout if you foam roll beforehand.
What is the benefit of foam roller?
There are a few benefits from foam rolling, but the most prominent one is that it provides flexibility during a workout, when used before you exercise. Although foam rollers are said to not be the most effective treatment of an IT band, they are still good for loosening tight muscles. Many studies have also shown that the delayed-onset of muscle soreness can be reduced or entirely avoided.
How to treat Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)?
There are quite a few ways to relieve the pain and treat it. Ways to relieve the pain and treat ITBS are:
- Applying ice to the band
- Resting and putting off activities that will only irritate the IT band
- Massage and use a foam roller on the IT band if the pain is not severe
- Use anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen)
- Possibly the use of therapeutic ultrasound may be required to treat the band; there are some applications of ultrasound for therapeutic purposes that non-invasively treat the IT band by delivering therapeutic agents
- Wear shoes that will be comfortable and preferably customized for any sports you may play, or invest in shoe inserts
How long does it take to recover from ITBS?
Following a physician’s recommendations, moderating the exercise performed, wearing supportive footwear, and taking medication, can result in the IT band to heal in approximately six weeks. However, disregard for your condition may prolong the recovery period. Be sure to regularly monitor the progress by following up with your physician.
How to Target the IT Band with a Foam Roller
There are exercises that target the iliotibial band by placing the foam roller commonly on the following body parts:
There are many experts online that have tutorials for exercises that will target the IT band. Some of the exercises that are easy (yet effective) can help you in achieving this are: hip thrusts, clamshells, and side leg raises.
If your IT Band, or any other foot/ankle/leg condition, is preventing you from living a fully active and happy life, make an appointment with our Athletic Therapist. Burlington’s best Athletic Therapist will do a full lower body assessment and provide you with recommendations to living a fully active and happy life! Our team in the Burlington office will also be able to fit you for compression socks and footwear if necessary. Call us to make an appointment 289-245-6624 for this complete assessment.