PT on the Net Research

Foam Rolling the ITB


Question:

I have noticed that while foam rolling my ITBs, it is much less painful rolling towards my knee than away from it. Even though I am rolling over the same area, the direction I am rolling makes a significant difference in the amount of pain I feel. Is this common? And if so, why does the direction you roll make a difference?

Answer:

This is a very good question. The most common reason for this is due to the shape of the band. It has a lot less width at the area around the knee because it attaches onto the tibia therefore only having a small surface area for pressure to be applied. So as you work up the leg towards the hip it widens quite considerably creating more surface area for the roller to apply pressure to. Hence the further away from the knee you go the more painful it can become. Other external factors can have an effect; type of injury (i.e., cork thigh - adhesion) or muscle tension, frequency of training-overuse injury, uniform relaxation in each direction. If they are apprehensive in a certain direction this will cause more pain, do they maintain the same body position in both directions-obviously different positions of the body will create different pressure and even bring in other muscle groups especially around the ITB.

Hope this helps!