One of the most annoying and painful injuries an athlete can battle is iliotibial band syndrome, or ITB. ITB causes knee and hip pain, and is most prevalent among runners. The pain caused by ITB can be frustrating and prevent the athlete from training in his desired way. ITB can be prevented and treated, however, with a simple tool known as the foam roller.
What is ITB?
The iliotibial band, or IT band, is a piece of connective tissue that runs from the hip to the knee. The job of the iliotibial band is to stabilize the knee during activity such as running. Iliotibial band syndrome is caused when the IT band becomes too tight. Runners typically develop ITB as a result of too much running and not enough stretching; however, athletes can develop ITB from overuse or over-training.
A foam roller is a piece of exercise equipment that is used to help relieve tension and tightness in muscles. Known as self-myofascial release, a foam roller is like getting a massage at home. Foam rollers are an inexpensive piece of equipment that are small enough to be taken anywhere, and can be used on the majority of muscles in the body.
Foam Roller Exercise for ITB
Sports MD recommends keeping the IT band loose and stretched in order to prevent ITB. Using the foam roller daily can help release tightness in the IT band to keep it loose. To begin, place the foam roller beneath you, perpendicular to your body. Lie down on the side of the injured leg, placing the foam roll at the level of the knee. Slowly push your body weight across the foam roll until the roll is at the level of your hip. Then reverse directions and slowly roll back across the foam roll until the foam roll is back at the knee.
What To Expect
ITB can be a nagging injury, but rest and foam rolling will help to get you back training quickly. Be aware that foam rolling the IT band is a lot more painful than any other muscle in the body because of how tight it can be. Do not give up on the foam roller just because it hurts. Continue to foam roll daily for the best results.
Kaitlin Condon is a holistic health coach and certified physical fitness/wellness specialist. She is a contributing health writer for the teen magazine "Miabella," as well as several online publications.