Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

No Differences Found In IT Band Stiffness Between Injured And Healthy Runners

July 30, 2020


In previous blogs we have discussed the lack of evidence for the utilization of foam rolling on the IT band. This tissue’s tensile strength makes it resistant to all forces including massage, foam rolling, and instrumented soft tissue work. This is a gym activity is a time waste where the juice is not worth the squeeze gained after foam rolling this structure. Conversely, previous research has shown an improvement in lower body flexibility after rolling the adjacent muscles including the TFL and lateral quadriceps. If there is a anecdotal improvement in flexibility after rolling the IT band it is likely secondary to indirectly treating the vastus lateralis which is found in front of, underneath, and behind the IT band. A recent research study challenges commonly held beliefs that IT band tightness is to blame for IT band syndrome or pain.

The journal Physical Therapy in Sport published a recent study on the IT band tension in a group of injured runners (Friede et al. 2020). Authors compared the degree of IT band stiffness using shear wave elastography in injured runners’ involved and uninvolved legs, as well as, in a group of healthy controls. As expected they found no difference in IT band stiffness between the injured and healthy legs of these injured runners or between injured runners and their healthy peers. This study questions the utilization of soft tissue work to the IT band or stretching of this structure in patients with IT band syndrome. Instead patients are advised to work with a Physical Therapist to address hip weakness and running biomechanics.

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