TB Syndrome: Stretching VS Foam Rolling

Many thanks to James Dunne - Kenetic Revolution for writing this article for our webite 

If you’re currently struggling with the pain of ITB syndrome, you’ll be all too familiar with how frustrating this kind of knee pain can be. 

The temptation is to try and stretch the region, but it’s really important to appreciate that the ITB itself is a thick band of tissue that simply can't be stretched like a muscle can. That’s not to say that it isn’t important to work on the quality of surrounding soft tissues, dealing with areas of tightness and restriction. In fact, used correctly the foam roller is a great tool for releasing tissues like tensor fascia latae muscles that can contribute to tension in the ITB.  

However, using the foam roller to work directly on the site of your lateral knee pain isn’t recommended. Current thinking around what causes ITB syndrome is that the pain is more related to compression around the outside of the knee, caused by tension in the iliotibial band, than friction, which was previously thought to be the problem. With that in mind, hopefully it’s clear that using the foam roller to aggressively further compress the site of pain would be a bad idea, and potentially hinder your recovery. 

The video above shows how best to use a foam roller to target muscles around the outside of the thigh, and around the hips to provide relief from the tightness that can cause ITB syndrome. 

In addition to foam rolling in an effort to relax tight muscles, it is important to build strength and stability to address the root causes of the injury. A physio assessment is of course an important step, so as to identify where specifically your individual weak links lie, as we’re all different.  

That said, for many runners, the key to overcoming ITB syndrome is in building strength and stability around the hips, with lots of exercises for the gluteal muscles, and core region. I like to factor this type fo injury prevention work into every marathon training plan so that injury prevention work holds as much importance as the running workouts themselves.