Foam rolling your IT (iliotibial) band
has become a popular practice for many athletes and fitness enthusiasts as a way to relieve tension and improve flexibility in the hip and knee areas.
However, recent research suggests that foam rolling your IT band may not be an effective way to address underlying issues and may even cause harm.
The IT band is a thick band of tissue that runs from the hip to the knee along the outside of the thigh. It is connected to the hip muscles and knee joint and plays a role in stabilizing the leg during movement. Tightness or dysfunction in the IT band can contribute to a range of conditions, such as iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), which can cause pain and discomfort in the hip, knee, or outer thigh.
While foam rolling can provide temporary relief from tightness or discomfort, it does not address the underlying issue causing the tightness. In fact, foam rolling the IT band can actually exacerbate the problem by causing inflammation and irritation to the surrounding tissues, leading to further discomfort and pain.
Instead of foam rolling your IT band, it is recommended to focus on exercises and stretches that target the muscles that connect to the IT band, such as the hip abductors and glute muscles. (Video coming soon.) These exercises can help improve hip and knee stability, reduce tension in the IT band, and prevent further injury.
OR if you are a big fan on "rolling" try rolling your IT band this way instead:
Or better yet, do cupping. What is cupping? Cupping is a traditional therapy that involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. The suction can be created by either heating the air inside the cup or by using a pump to remove the air. Cupping is believed to help improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation. It is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain, such as back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain, as well as respiratory conditions.
The research available on cupping therapy for the IT band specifically is slowly growing, and finding that cupping may be a more effective method for addressing underlying issues and reducing pain than foam rolling.
One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine compared the effects of cupping therapy and stretching exercises to foam rolling and stretching exercises in individuals with ITBS. The study found that the cupping therapy group experienced greater improvements in pain reduction and functional ability than the foam rolling group. The authors suggested that the negative pressure created by the cups may help to release tension and improve blood flow to the affected area.
Another study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies compared the effects of cupping therapy and foam rolling on muscle soreness and range of motion in healthy individuals. The study found that both cupping and foam rolling resulted in improvements in range of motion, but the cupping group experienced greater reductions in muscle soreness than the foam rolling group.
While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of cupping therapy on the IT band, these studies suggest that cupping may be a more effective method for reducing pain and improving function than foam rolling.
It is important to note that cupping therapy should be performed by a trained professional and may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications.
**Thanks to Lisa Meyer, LMT sharing her cupping skills & knowledge with us!**
In conclusion, foam rolling your IT band may not be an effective solution for addressing underlying issues and can even cause harm. It is recommended to focus on rolling the supportive muscles, cupping, and do daily exercises and stretches that target the muscles that connect to the IT band to improve overall stability and flexibility.
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