In a previous blog we wrote about why you should not spend your valuable exercise time rolling your iliiotibial (IT) band. In short, this strong fibrous band will not stretch or move in response to any painful exercise with a foam roller or soft tissue tool of your choice. This is a classic example of the juice not being worth the squeeze. Conversely, rolling the surrounding muscles often reduces feeling of tightness and improves mobility across the lateral thigh. A recent research article examined the impact of foam rolling either a muscle or the IT band on hip mobility.
Hall and colleagues in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy randomized 27 participants to perform 3 separate foam rolling sessions: over the gluteal muscles, over the IT band, and a control session (2018). Authors measured hip flexibility both before and after each of 3 rolling sessions in each participant. Consistent with our prior research, no changes in hip mobility were seen after participants rolled their IT bands, but mobility improved after rolling the muscles of the hip.
Patients are encouraged to roll muscle tissue and not the IT band to optimize their mobility workouts.