Should foam rollers be used to treat iliotibial (IT) band pain? The IT band is a tendon located on the outer thigh. There are various possible treatments for IT band pain, including foam rollers.
A foam roller is a self-massage method used to deal with muscle knots/tension. There are several applications of foam rollers, including pre-workout warm-ups, and post-workout muscle recovery. It is also used to deal with various issues that cause pain/discomfort in muscles and other connective tissue. However, it might be unclear whether it band and foam roller should be combined.
Much of the online advice about this issue explains why you should never use foam rolling over IT bands. There’s no question that there are some possible drawbacks that should make you think twice about using the foam roller for this purpose. However, you can still get some benefits by rolling over the multi-purpose tendon on the thigh. So the issue of whether or not you should use the self-massage method for dealing with IT bands. Like many other issues, it’s a complex issue that involves several factors. So it’s critical to look at the pros and cons to determine whether or not it’s a practical option.
What Exactly is the IT Band?
It refers to the iliotibial (IT) band located on the outer knee/thigh region. Besides the IT band itself, there’s also IT band syndrome. It usually involves activities that require you to keep bending your knee. They include walking, running, hiking, and cycling.
The IT band is made up of thick fibers. It extends from the outside hips to the side of the thigh, to the top of the shins. If you experience tight IT bands it can cause pain/swelling in the knee region.
It’s common for IT band syndrome to improve due to treatment and giving it time. In most cases, the patient doesn’t require surgery.
IT band pain results from friction in the area where the IT band crosses over the knee. There’s a fluid-filled sac that makes it easier for the It to slide smoothly over the knee when you bend/straighten the leg.
In the case, the IT band gets too tight, bending the knee produces friction. It can cause the IT band and sac to swell. That results in IT band syndrome.
Various factors can increase your risk of getting IT band syndrome. They include issues like running/training on bad surfaces, some physical conditions, and not using good training methods.
If you think you have IT band syndrome, you should get a checkup from your doctor. That can help to determine whether or not you have the condition.
There are also various symptoms to watch out for that could indicate you have IT band syndrome:
- Feeling pop/snap on outside of the knee
- Redness/war mph on the outside of the knee
- Pain up/down leg
- Pain, tenderness, or burning on outside of the knee
It’s important to watch out for multiple symptoms. Make sure to contact your doctor and especially if your symptoms become worse over time.
IT Band and Foam Roller: Pros and Cons
1. Hydrate tissues
Foam rolling might help to rehydrate the muscle tissues. That is due to the processing being like squeezing out a sponge. The fluid is forced out, letting the sponge expand and lets fluids flow back in.
New fluid isn’t produced in the process. However, some researchers think that the compression/decompression process can help fluid flow to clogged up areas. It might help to maintain healthy tissues. It’s worth noting that more research is needed.
2. Better range of motion
Studies show that foam rolling can help boost the range of motion of knee/joint. This situation happens without affecting how well the muscles work. Scientists believe that foam rolling might help as a pre-workout warm-up.
It’s believed that maintaining pressure might help to provide benefits like softer tissue. However, researchers aren’t clear if a higher range of motion can be sustained.
3. Connection with body
Another possible benefit is that foam rolling can help people connect with their bodies. That is believed to provide general benefits that could help to deal with IT band pain.
1. Doesn’t deal with the real problem
While knee pain often results in the IT band being blamed, the pain starts in other places in many situations. There are various examples when other body parts could be causing the It band to tighten because of those issues.
2. IT band stretching
It’s important to note that the IT band is a tendon rather than a muscle. It provides benefits like stable hips. IT bands ought to be tight since they help to hold the body together. A loose IT band can cause issues and harm its function.
3. Worse situation
The foam rolling could cause damage to muscles underneath the tendon. Besides treating the tendon you’re also basically smashing up muscle lying under the tendon.
Top Treatments for IT Band Pain
- MEDICATIONS: Various anti-inflammation medicines can help to treat the symptoms of IT band pain. This includes over-the-counter (OTC) meds so you won’t have to deal with the strong chemicals of prescription meds.
- STRETCHING EXERCISES: You can find many online sources for these stretches. The goal is to help keep the tendon loose instead of tight. This can provide several benefits including reducing more energy. Your doctor might also recommend certain stretches that can help to treat this condition.As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Stretches might help to prevent the IT band pain from becoming worse. That’s half the battle since it allows you to focus on treating/managing the pain from IT band syndrome.
- ULTRASOUNDS: This is another method that can help to reduce tension in the IT band. A similar treatment is electro-therapies, which use electricity instead.
- MASSAGE: It’s worth noting that foam rolling itself is a type of self-massage. You can also treat the condition by getting a traditional deep-tissue massage. It can provide several benefits including treating pain/discomfort from IT band syndrome.
- SURGERY: It’s rare for surgery to be required. However, sometimes it’s used to find inflammation around the IT band. Other options include cuts to lengthen the band and increase space.
- RICE METHOD: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE) method can help by reducing swelling and pain while speeding up healing. Make sure to consult your doctor about the best ways to lower swelling including IT band and foam roller.