After my issues with ITBS, a few people recommended that I acquire a foam roller which helps with self-myofascial release (SMR). Basically, the foam roller provides similar benefits to that of a deep-tissue massage (without the expensive price tag). This means it breaks down scar tissue and adhesions often caused my injury or overuse. You can roll before you run, after you run, or both! You can use it for any tight or sore muscles – but my main focus is on my ITB. Now, the ITB is a ligament (and not a muscle), however, many people claim it can help release a tight ITB and I myself have felt the benefits of this.
It isn’t a pain-free process, and it is quite tender (especially over an inflamed ITB), but I have literally felt the incredible effects of rolling. The foam roller is particularly helpful with ITBS when you use it for the glutes, TFL and hamstrings. By removing tension from these muscle groups, you can decrease the ITBS you experience.
Although this helps greatly with ITB, you shouldn’t use it as a long-term treatment – rather seek professional advice as to what is causing your ITBS.
Here I demonstrate how to use the foam roller for ITBS – I cover the hamstrings, the TFL and the ITB itself.
Support yourself with your arms and hands behind you, and roll up and down the hamstrings slowly with moderate pressure until you feel a tender, tight or painful area. Stop over this area and although it’s uncomfortable, try relax. You will eventually feel the muscle release and relax – this can take a varying amount of time, but most people say between 5 and 30 seconds. Go with what feels right for you.
If you want to increase the pressure you’re putting on your hamstrings, you can advance the move by putting one leg on top of the other. This isn’t a pain tolerance test, though, and if it is too painful for direct pressure, rather change angles and gradually move over that area until it releases.
The TFL or ‘Tensor Fasciae Latae’ muscle is situated on the front of your thigh, more or less where your pocket would be and helps stabilize the hip in extension. It is often thought to be a big contributor to ITBS in conjunction with the Gluteus Maximus, so it’s a good idea to roll out any tightness that may be in this muscle.
Lastly, is the ITB itself. Now, remember that this isn’t a muscle, but I have found major relief from rolling over the ITB. If you suffer from ITBS, this is a warning that it is extremely sensitive, and this should be done slowly and carefully, putting a lot of weight on your hands to reduce the pressure on your ITB.
If the pressure is too much, you can cross the unused leg over and place it on the floor in front of you for extra-stabilization and to reduce the pressure felt while rolling over the ITB.
Always seek medical attention prior to using a foam roller to ensure it is safe to use in your individual circumstances. I bought my Foam Roller from Dischem for R299.99, but they are not hard to come by, and you can find them at all major sportsware outlets. Check out breakingmuscle.com – I found this site very informative and helpful in understanding how to foam roll safely, and why it helps. I’m definitely not looking back!