I.T. Bands and Foam Rollers

The topic of the IT band and the use of foam rollers comes up quite often in my practice and I wanted to share information with you today regarding this topic that I often with client to help them make choices with my help and of their own personal trainers and physical therapist. Most often I will see people that will be tight in the area of their hips and glutes and IT band. The statements can be caused by a wide array of activities however the solution to most of these problems is releasing the tissue in the correct order to not hinder performance or cause unnecessary discomfort. Today I'd like to go over some of the general principles that guide my thought process in the use of these products.

The IT bands are a stabilizing layer of tissue on the outside of the thigh which is the extension of a muscle originating in the hips and going down to the knees. It's main purpose is to assist in the stabilization of movement caused by walking upright. There are number of muscles in the body which help us to do this which are located in the glutes and a group of muscles in the upper and mid leg called the adductors. Some of these muscles are relatively small others are very large but the IT bands get a great deal of attention simply because they're easy to touch and to feel the tension. Without these stabilizing tissues are legs will not be able to remain underneath us during motion so the proper balance of these muscles and health of these muscles is vital to athletic performance.

Let’s look at the reasons why people turn to foam rollers in the first place (the problem they want to work on). The one I hear most often is tightness with pain in the out edge of the knee where the I.T. band “inserts” or attaches. The one I hear the second most often is that when a person touches their IT band through their skin and they believe that the level of tension they feel is somehow unnatural or not optimal for their bodies athletic performance. Let me make one ticket or point of no here and that is that on my exercise in rehab professionals there still a significant debate as to what the causes of these pain points are whether it be the IT band itself or the surrounding adductor tissue. There is even debate as well about the proper way to release the tissue in terms of what muscles or tissue should be released first, second, third and so on. I will endeavor however to provide you information I believe it's the most current and objective regarding this topic but I also encourage everyone to study on the wrong finding objective sources.

So first let's do a simple body analysis that covers most individuals one of their athletes or not. There is always going to be weaknesses and then balances in the body due to the nature of our existence and that is not a natural or unhealthy to have some minor and balances throughout the body. It is a specialization and the repetitive nature of our moderate exercise culture that I believe it is responsible for much problem in the IT band and the hips. Some of the newest trends are to go back to a widely varying activity type athletic training program which allows the body to act within its full range of motion and strength which I believe is the most effective way to keep the body and overall balance and it's tension and pain level as was naturally intended.

As a full body analysis those glutes muscles can be stronger or weaker than others even though they're in the same general area because of the purpose of muscles serve so repetitive abuse of certain muscles because were doing repetitive activities can be much of the source of this IT band and hip pain. In my opinion if the healthcare community wanted to do something truly positive for the outcomes of their patients people would have better access to preventative care in this regard. A great example would be to find out if the bone structure of the hips back and lower body was in correct alignment. If those areas are functioning normally I believe another step would be to look at nutritional factors or issues whether they are playing any part in a lack of muscle development or a lack of proper nutrition getting to the tissue. I would then make sure that a thorough analysis of their muscle structure is done to ensure that tension in all directions was equal and balance often termed the trend security balance. And doing some of that fundamental research prior to start of treatment I believe that many people would get these aches and pains settled without the use of this adaptive devices. Who is to say that a tape glue muscle is not the source of the IT band pain or a hip being degraded by wear and tear is not causing an imbalance or muscle firing problem instead of the IT band? Without a reasonable analysis I believe it is unprofessional for anyone to attempt to start treating someone without that basic information Anchorage every client to make sure that we eliminate as many of those factors as possible prior to any treatment.

What harm can foam roller do and what are some of the benefits to using one? Answer to the benefit question this is still someone in debate. Foam rollers are marketed as a way for the connective tissue to get stretched out and provide better circulation in terms of length and blood flow into the muscles underneath the IT band. Well, the foam roller in principle does stretch the connective tissue and forms of connective tissue release are not as great or better at performing this task. Many manufacturers will also say that phone rollers and in pain management by releasing pressure and vital joints. In many cases foam rollers have also been used on the back and neck the back of the legs for the same purpose now I'm to stretch and hydrate the tissue but to reduce pressure points on major joints. Again, the issue becomes whether the bones are in proper alignment and the muscles were probably needs take joints are actually too tight where it has some of the muscles nearby maybe week causing a muscular compensation. Again, that is a debate point to this day. Then there is a question of harm. Using a foam roller on the IT bands is considered to be one of the most painful things in math we can do. The reason for this is very simple you're taking a hard cylindrical object and rolling it over phone of which if there's any tight spots between the phone and the roller it will have tremendous amount of pressure laid upon it. In any case is this triggers the healing response which is marketed as a benefit. In my experience and speaking with other personal trainers and physical therapist they often times point out the fact that many people who purchase them do not use them be on the first 3 or 8 sessions. The reason most often given to them which was free stated to me that the excruciating pain involved in using them as a deterrent from continued regular use. In many cases personal trainers especially if indicated that regular use of the phone roller over a period of months can have a tremendous impact on the tension level felt in the IT bands and if continue uses followed can significantly reduce the pain their clients tell them they have. Again, this is a matter of causation relationships impacting peoples opinions but not totally rooted in proper ignition diagnostics to determine the true cause of the pain in the first place.

Most foam rollers can be used by individuals once they have been properly instructed on how to use and buy a qualified professional in that regard they can then be used at home under supervision. This cost saving and convenient way to continue the therapy at a reduced rate is very attractive to many people. For that reason alone I believe that their popularity will continue and the redesign of these types of products will continue for sometime to come as well as more research becomes available. My best advice for anyone with tight IT band or considering using foam rollers is to get a proper assessment of the entire hip and leg region of the body before buying one of these products. The idea is to look for other possible causes and to get a much more accurate and clear picture as to your current state of health when I comes to this region of the body to make sure that you were correcting and issue rather than simply treating symptoms. Taking the extra time to find the cause will save you and your other medical professionals a great deal of time and money guild much more significant results for you.

If you have any questions regarding this topic I urged people to contact a qualified professionals such as a personal trainers, rehabilitative therapist, massage therapist, chiropractic doctors to get your questions answered. 


So why is a massage therapist and bodyworker talking about magnesium in a blog post? How many of us could answer the question: Why do we need magnesium in our diets?” Well I have had to learn the hard way why we need this in our diets and as time has gone on I find myself having to learn more and share more with my clients about this topic. I wanted to share just a brief summery of why this mineral is in my option one that everyone should make sure they are getting enough of in their diets in one way or the other.


The cliff notes on is that magnesium is used in the human body to help regulate our body functions as well as make up tissue and body fluids. Just to give you a sample of some of the many functions we are talking about here: 

  1. Glucose and fat breakdown within the body which helps to regulate our blood sugar and body weight.
  2. Is one of building blocks of making DNA and RNA structures for cell reproduction (think clear new skin).
  3. Regulation of cholesterol production (“good” and “bad” cholesterol) on a daily basis. 
  4. Hormones get produced in correct quantities when we have all the parts that make them up, one of which is magnesium. 


Magnesium is knows as a macro-mineral, which means it is need to absorb a large amount of it to stay healthy. Other macro-minerals we need for good health are calcium, sodium, and potassium which many people consume to little of or way to much of depending on your overall diet.  We need about 25 grams per day they say for good health but depending on a number of factors we could need more. So how can we tell if we are short on magnesium without a blood test? Physical symptoms of low magnesium are: 

  1. Tics
  2. Muscles spasms with no outward signs of injury to a nerve
  3. cramps
  4. seizers
  5. unexplained anxiety
  6. Impaired memory

Along with some of these symptoms there are some well known and verified health conditions associated with low magnesium levels:

  1. Depression
  2. ADHD
  3. Migraine Headaches (which I see often)
  4. Type 2 Diabetes (even if it runs if families it can be an indication as diets among family members tends to be similar)


What if I want to know if I am low on magnesium? Well, you have a couple of options on this one but I suggest asking for a blood test for all of your vitamin and mineral levels. You can request the test be done at your doctors office (don’t expect your insurance carrier to cover that BTW). You can go to a nutritionists or even request an at home testing kit from a reputable lab which can also provide you with a print out of your levels (that does mean they will also tell you what they are supposed to be).


How do I get more in my diet? 


Sources of magnesium:

  1. dark leafy green veggies
  2. nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds
  3. Macjerak or tuna
  4. beans 
  5. avocados
  6. bananas
  7. dark chocolate
  8. Supplements (go for glycinate rather than other less refined products in increase absorption)

Hope this helps guys! Don’t forget to see verify if this is right for you by another trusted medical professional before taking action. Never trust just one source with you good health. 

Legal Disclaimer: Due to the litigious nature of many people I am forced to issue this statement: Any information contained within blogs, websites, postings, or news articles suggestions which I make to be open for interpretation that if you believe it may fit a concern or medical problem you may be having or suspect that you may have that you discuss it with your qualified healthcare practitioner including your physician. I do not take responsibility in any way for any content provided to you that you choose to act on without talking to a medical doctor or other qualified medical practitioner with legal standing of authority. You are free to act on any information from any source that you choose of which the consequences are your responsibility.