So you’ve probably seen it before:  you walk into a gym and see people foam rolling the snot out of their IT Band .  They don’t look like they’re having much fun, usually there is a face that goes along with it, and it looks something like this: john mayer painful face.  Those folks will usually tell you something like “no pain, no gain.”  The problem is that this approach doesn’t address the cause of why someone has tight and or painful ITBs, which can be contributing not only to knee problems, but also hip and back issues.

Rolling your IT band is just treating a symptom at best.  Which means there is no end in sight, just continue to roll your IT band until the cows come home.  cow coming home pic

I had an experience with my car this week that made me think of IT bands (Yes, guilty…I am a proud physical therapy nerd).  I had a leak in my tire, I kept filling it up with air at the gas station, and I was able to drive on it for a while.  The tire kept losing air, until I finally found the screw in it and bought a new tire.

You can try to treat a symptom and get some short term relief at best, but won’t get a long term fix until you get after the actual causeIMG_2991 (1)Here’s my car, with the new tire, they told me they wouldn’t put a racing stripe on it.

“If I can’t roll my IT band then what am I supposed to do?”  I’m glad you asked.  You need your muscles to turn on and off at the right time.  If we can get your gluts to turn on and off at the right time (this won’t be something you have to think about, no voluntary contraction, just happens automatically) and get your IT bands and TFL muscles to stop trying to help too much, then you won’t have to ever roll your IT bands again.  Now working your gluts can mean a lot of different things to lots of different people.   Most of the exercises I see in the gym that people use to work their gluts also work TFL muscles and feed into the overworked IT bands.

The exercises I like to give people will make sure they are in a good alignment; if they aren’t then I will get them aligned properly, through exercise or manual/hands on techniques, which is half the battle.  This helps the muscles to fire properly.  We then focus on getting these muscles to fire in progressively challenged positions, without forgetting the importance of the rest of the body.  The goal is to re-train the muscles to turn on and off at the right time so that you can do whatever activity you want, without having to think about voluntary muscle contractions, and without being doomed to a life of silly looking exercises.

Give me a call if you’d like to talk about it more and I can let you know if I was able to convince someone to put a racing stripe on my Subaru Forester.