Is Using a Foam Roller on Your IT Bands Helping or Hurting You?
A fellow Pilates Teacher forwarded me an article from Greg Lehman, BKin, MSc, DC, MScPT entitled The mechanical case against foam rolling your IT Band. It can not lengthen and it is NOT tight. She wanted to know what I thought about the article…
The article is an interesting read with some pretty strong opinions on why we should STOP using a foam roller to “stretch” or “loosen” tight IT bands.
I have to admit that I am one who occasionally will use a foam roller massage on my IT bands, as well as the rest of my body. I don’t do it all the time, but do enjoy the sense of release/relief I feel when I’m finished. Sometimes it’s a little painful, and sometimes I don’t feel much of anything at all. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about rolling on my IT bands as a stretching exercises, as much as a way to release tight muscles and fascia along the sides of my thighs. But I don’t ever just roll the sides of my legs, I use the foam roller for my whole body – back, quads, hamstrings, outer thighs, calves… I believe it’s important to work and stretch everything for a healthy system, and sometimes a little foam roller massage feels great after a long, hard workout.
So what’s my opinion about using a foam roller on your IT bands… Well, I’m not an expert, a doctor, or a researcher for exercise science, so my only thoughts are just that, thoughts, conjecture, and personal opinion.
If the outer thighs are tight, or there is stress at the knee or hip end of the leg that seems to be putting more pressure or stress on the IT band to make it feel “tighter” than you think it should be, chances are there is a muscle imbalance or movement pattern somewhere in your body along the line from the feet and ankles, up through the lower leg, knee, thighs, hips, pelvis, and back. Poor body mechanics or lack of body awareness about what you’re doing wrong means that with every step you take, or exercise you to, you’re continuing to reinforce an unhealthy movement habit. If our body is in balance, and our muscles and body mechanics for movement are working well, there should not be any undue stress on ANY part of the body. Everything single part and piece of the body should work well and feel great! As Greg Leman points out in his article – our IT bands are supposed to be tight!
I’ll be interested to see if any further research on this topic of using a foam roller on your IT bands pops up to help clear up the controversy and put our mind’s to ease about making the choice – To Roll or Not to Roll… that is the question.
Looking to learn more about using Foam Roller exercises in your workouts – Checkout this Centerworks eCourse – Foam Roller Fitness: Exercise Tips and Core Training Techniques.
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