Why don’t we roll the IT band anymore?
I hear the question every once in a while so I decided to do a short blog explaining
just why we hardly ever program it.
In talking with a physical therapist as well as some reading in the past I learned more about why it’s something that probably doesn’t need to be done often (some believe not at all). The reason is because the IT band is not contractile tissue. The IT band is actually a long tendon that stretches from the TFL (a muscle on the side of the hip) down to the knee. Its main purpose is to help stabilize the legs/hips when moving forward and backward. However, in cases where someone has tight or weak lateral hips this smaller muscle goes into overdrive, which is why it can feel “tight." More often than not, the cause of that tightness is actually the muscle on the side of the hip. Another reason can be someone who does a lot of something that involves a major need for stabilization moving forward or backward such as running.
I’ve spoken in the past about just how large of forces are involved with running, it creates a lot of demand from a relatively small muscle, the TFL, which is a muscle that we roll when we hit the glutes. Also often that feeling of “pain” or “tightness” can actually be due to tightness from one of the quads that runs partially under the IT band, which can be rolled without directly rolling on the IT band, it's just assumed that it is the IT band because its in the same proximity.
It is just fine to roll it! We don't focus on it because it is not a muscle that actively contracts, so tightness is due to muscles up in the hip not the IT band itself.