Anatomy

The trendy go-to rem­edy for a tight IT band—foam rolling—can ac­tu­ally do more harm than good. Here’s why, plus the yoga poses that’ll help you keep your IT band healthy.

Yoga Journal - - CONTENTS - By Jill Miller

Tight IT band? Read this be­fore you break out that foam roller!

THE ILIOTIBIAL (IT) BAND may not be top of mind for most yo­gis. Af­ter all, the thick fas­cial tis­sue (sim­i­lar to a ten­don) isn’t typ­i­cally ag­gra­vated by yoga alone. But if you love jump backs, or if you prac­tice yoga to help bal­ance a fit­ness reg­i­men filled with high-im­pact or ex­plo­sive ac­tiv­i­ties (think run­ning, hik­ing, danc­ing, or high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing) you likely have an em­bod­ied sense of this fi­brous struc­ture, and you might say it feels “tight.” And you’re right: The tendi­nous fibers of the IT band have a firm­ness that serve as a nat­u­ral pro­tec­tor of your outer thigh. Yet be­fore you use yoga to help “stretch” or heal your IT band, it’s im­por­tant to know the ba­sics about how this tis­sue can be­come ir­ri­tated and what to do to help it feel bet­ter.

If you feel pain on the out­side of your knee, par­tic­u­larly when bend­ing it, this may be a sign that you’re deal­ing with IT Band Syn­drome. For ex­am­ple, pain may oc­cur when you walk up or down stairs or move into yoga poses that re­quire a deep bend in one knee, such as Virab­hadrasana II (War­rior Pose II). The source? IT band ten­sion caused by im­bal­ances in your ten­sor fas­ciae latae or glu­teus max­imus mus­cles—the two hip-based con­nec­tion points for your IT band. When these mus­cles pull on your IT band, which con­nects into your knee’s joint cap­sule and the out­side of your shin bone, it can lead to pain in your outer knee.

The good news? IT band is­sues are usu­ally not very se­ri­ous and re­spond well to strength­en­ing and re­leas­ing ten­sion in the mus­cles sur­round­ing the ten­don— es­pe­cially your glu­teus max­imus and ten­sor fas­ciae latae, as well as the neigh­bor­ing quadri­ceps, ham­strings, hip flex­ors, and hip ro­ta­tors.

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