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Foam Roller Exercises for ITB Syndrome

author image Jay Donelson
Jay Donelson began writing fitness and nutrition articles for LIVESTRONG.COM in 2011. Jay has a Bachelor of Arts in English from West Virginia University and a Master of Arts in adult education from the University of Rhode Island. He is also a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist (CFNS).
Foam Roller Exercises for ITB Syndrome
ITB syndrome is a common problem for runners Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

One common nagging injury that active people, particularly runners, face is known as iliotibial band syndrome. This syndrome can be painful but is also treatable with little expense and time. In fact, you can treat this problem on your own with the use of a foam roller. Foam rolling the affected area feels like a self-massage and can help get you relaxed and ready to go.

Iliotibial Band

Understanding what the ITB is will allow you to deal with it properly to allow you to continue training. The iliotibial band, or ITB, is a piece of connective tissue that runs the length of the thigh. It is primarily responsible for the stabilization of the knee while running. Runners tend to develop a tight ITB, also known as ITB syndrome, through overuse and a lack of flexibility in the ITB.

ITB Syndrome

ITB syndrome is recognized as pain located around the outside of the knee that becomes worse while exercising, specifically running. According to San Diego Sports Medicine, common causes of ITB syndrome include trying to run too far too soon and an unsound stride that results in tightness in the ITB. If you experience this type of pain, stop running and ice the area. Rest and stretch the area fully before your next training session.

Foam Roll

Self-myofascial release, performed through the use of a foam roller, allows you to relieve tension and tightness in your muscles on your own and with little expense. Professional marathoner Clint Verran describes a foam roll as a firm foam log. They come in different lengths and widths, but they all have a cylindrical shape, which allows you to roll your body over it. You can use a foam roller for the majority of the muscles in your body.

ITB Foam Roll Technique

ITB syndrome symptoms can be relieved through the use of a foam roll. Place the foam roll on the ground and place the outside of your thigh on the roll so that you can roll the length of your thigh. Place your hands on the floor and use them to pull your body back and forth over the affected area of your leg for a minute. Do not roll over bone, just muscle. Roll over both legs a few times a day.

Other Suggestions

Foam rolling is not the only way to deal with ITB syndrome. Stores that specialize in running equipment will be able to test your stride and find the right shoe for your running style, as well as give you pointers for how to correct your stride. Stretch the ITB before each run by placing the injured leg behind your other leg and bend over to touch your toes. Perform the stretch on both legs before you run.

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