Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) and its Role in the Warm-Up
Rolling the ITB has been a hotly debated topic. While some believe direct rolling and the pain felt while carrying this out is good, studies suggest that a more focused approach on releasing the muscle groups and the strengthening of weak muscles to redistribute tension is of more benefit.
Rolling is generally aimed at fascia release. Fascia is a sheath of non-contractile fibrous connective tissue that extends over your entire body. One common area that is quiet often tender to touch, let alone role is the Illiotibial band (ITB). The ITB is naturally a common area for tightness as it blends fibres with the Gluteus Maximus (GM) and Tensor fascia lata (TFL) muscles at one end and the tibia at the other.
Do you experience pain around the knee or hip area? The ITB acts a lateral knee stabilizer and assists in knee flexion. Overtightening of the ITB is usually felt as tightness in the lateral knee. The fascia may become knotted and inflamed as a result of repetitive training. If the area is already inflamed, direct rolling has been suggested to further irritate the area. Therefore an alternate approach may be of more benefit. Rolling the attachment areas around the glutes and hips (GM, TFL) and tibial insertion points may be of more benefit in releasing the ITB. However, quite often the answer to relieving tension comes from utilising a combination of techniques such as stretching, strengthening and even dry needling.
If you are experiencing pain while rolling the ITB it is more than likely due to the irritation and inflammation underneath the ITB. SMR is used to improve the tissue quality of fascia, not just cause you pain! We need to move away from the idea of ‘no pain no gain’. So if you have a tight ITB, let’s try to treat the problem not the symptom.
Falvey EC, Clark RA, Franklyn-Miller A, Bryant AL, Briggs C, McCrory PR. Iliotibial band syndrome: an examination of the evidence behind a number of treatment options. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 20(4):580-7