Using A Foam Roller To Stretch Out Your IT Band
Feel the pain of rolling out your IT band. Aw, yeah.
A month or so ago I was having some issues with my hip. It didn’t hurt when I was running but it felt really weird for a little while after I was done. I wasn’t really sure what was causing it but thanks to having awesome medical insurance at Kaiser I never wait too long to find out. I love having a co-pay of $20 and believe me, I take full advantage of it. If anything feels a little off I set an appointment online, drive less than 5 miles to the hospital within thirty minutes I usually have an answer.
So I made an appointment with my doctor and he gave me a referral to the Sports Med department. When I met up with the doctor I was relieved to find out that she was an active runner who also happened to be tall (we’re not exactly built to be runners).
After chatting with the doc and having her examine my flexibility (awful), running technique (not too bad) and my hip for a few minutes and she told me something that has completely changed the way I feel before, during and after running. The amazing yet simple thing she told me about was the foam roller and if you’re a runner and don’t know anything about it, listen up.
The foam roller is that longer tube-looking hard foam thing that’s usually sitting in the corner of where people stretch in a gym. I had seen one a million times but I never knew what it was used for. I also had never seen anyone else using it either so I guess I wasn’t the only one who didn’t have a clue. Now I know just how awesome the foam roller is and what we’ve all been missing out on.
A foam roller can be used on all different parts of your body but the main thing it does is use your own body weight to roll out tension and other stuff that’s built up in your muscles and tendons. The main thing that the doctor told me to work on was my IT band (iliotibial band) which is a thick and strong tendon that connects your hip to your knee that provides your leg with stability.
Meet your IT band.
Apparently over time runners who are increasing their distances put a real beating on the IT band and sometimes it gets a little angry and becomes injured. This is not something that you want to happen as a runner. Not only can the IT band itself become sore but pushing it too far without taking care of it can also cause other injuries to your knees and yep, you guessed it — your hips. (One other thing is that sitting down all day keeps your IT band tight, too so I am basically giving mine a double-whammy).
Your IT band is nearly impossible to stretch so really the only way to work on it is to use your body weight and a foam roller to loosen it up. The first few times I used one of these foam rollers I felt really awkward and rolling it up and down my legs was pretty painful. But, like with anything else, I figured out how to best roll myself on top of it and I now welcome the temporary pain in exchange for knowing it’s keeping me healthy long-term.
I use my foam roller almost every day now — both after running and after my Muay Thai/boxing classes. It’s done wonders for keeping me running pain-free and I haven’t felt anything from my hip in weeks. If you run or if you’re active I highly recommend getting yourself a foam roller, too. It’s the best $30 bucks you’ll ever spend.
If you’re wondering now to use one of these foam rollers head over to YouTube, there are a ton of videos like this one that will help you future it out in no time.
photo credit: RunningRules.com