Should you foam roll tight IT bands?

Ahhh the IT band. The number one thing that we want to blame for all of our hip and knee pain.

With that you might be wondering if it’s worth foam rolling and why it might feel tight?

I’m going to keep this as simple as possible.

If you’re unfamiliar with the IT band, it’s a super thick + strong band of connective tissue on the outer part of your leg that runs from your hip to your knee. It’s main purpose is to assist with stabilizing the knee during movement.

However, many of us have poor hip stability / weakness in the muscles (namely your glutes) that are supposed to control how forces run through our knees when walking / running / standing, so the IT band has to work extra hard to help support the hip and knee.

The end result is that it feels “tight” and sometimes comes with a side of knee pain or hip discomfort.

Which brings us to the question, should you foam roll your IT band?

Here’s my hot take.

For some people, foam rolling may help them sense where different muscles are and temporarily increase flexibility, which may make it easier for you to perform exercises with more ease and activate your muscles. However, for other people, it might not do much of anything.

It just depends.

To me the more important takeaway is that rolling that area is not going to hurt you, but if you don’t address your hip stability and overall lower body strength, your IT band will most likely continue to feel tight and your knees and hips may continue to hurt as well.

So if rolling your IT band feels good to you, go for it, BUT make sure you make hip stability + some sort of strength training a part of your life too. 

Wondering what those hip stability and strength exercises might look like? I gotchu.

Exercises for Hip Stability

And if you want ideas for glute strength, I created a free guide for you!

It includes a series of different lower body exercises to target all of the muscles that are responsible for controlling movement through your hips and knees + building lower body strength.

Ultimately, there is no single quick fix for hip and knee pain or IT band tightness.

What I’ve described is just a snapshot of what might be going on if you are experiencing tightness or pain.

If you’ve been having these issues for a while, know that a long term solution often requires working with a physical therapist to address the underlying causes of your tightness and pain and then seeking guidance from a knowledgeable personal trainer or coach to find the right program to build progressive stability and strength.

This often lessens the odds of the pain returning and will give you the strength for both daily life AND activities that you enjoy AND if foam rolling is a part of that process, because it feels good for you, then great. However, if you don’t enjoy it or notice that it does much, then you don’t need to do it either.

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