ITB TIGHTNESS & LATERAL KNEE PAIN
ITB Tightness & Lateral Knee Pain
A far too common mistake made by physiotherapists & health professionals alike is to blame all lateral knee pain on a tight ITB (illiotibial band), with the solution being: get on a foam roller and roll the crap out of it. I see far too many athletes, and gym goers spending hours on a foam roller, trying to roll out/release their ITBs, as historically has been taught to be the most effective treatment.
Unfortunately, this is not the answer…
So what is the problem with rolling your ITB?
*The ITB is not a muscle or individual band of tissue. The ITB is simply a thickened portion of the fascia lata that surrounds your entire thigh.
*The ITB (fascia) is an incredibly strong, thick and dense connective tissue. Studies have shown massage and foam rolling techniques cannot apply close to the amount of force you would need to make any significant changes in the length of this tissue type. Muscles are responsive to change, fascia is not.
*In lateral knee pain, the ITB is most likely stressed and over-worked. Foam rolling can increase fascial stress and inflammation in an already inflamed tissue, possibly making your condition even worse.
*There is an underlying reason for any tissue in the body to be “tight”. Whether it be a central nervous system adaptation, or muscle imbalance, there is always a cause, and unless that cause is addressed, no significant changes will be made.
Common causes of lateral knee pain/ITB syndrome:
- Delayed gluteus medius activation
- Overactive TFL
- Generalised hip weakness
- Heavy heel strike, over-striding, increased pronation or other biomechanical abnormalities
- Training load/surfaces
- Doing too much, too soon
So save yourself the pain of foam rolling your ITBs… find the cause of your symptoms and address that instead!
B. Health Sciences (Physio), APAM