IT Band (Iliotibial band), tightness affects many people and athletes of all types specifically runners. Tight IT bands can cause knee pain, hip pain and even affect the ankle and foot. When addressed properly the IT Band will loosen and relieve tension in those areas. The IT band is a long tendon that has muscular attachments at the hip. The muscles that attach to the hip are the Tensor Fascia Lata and the Gluteus Maximus. When these muscles contract they tense the IT Band. Therefore if they are not addressed the IT band will continue to be tight.
The Quads Role on the IT Band
The quadriceps muscle is the muscle that lies on the front of the thigh and there are 4 of them. The muscle that lies on the outside of the thigh is called the Vastus Lateralis and the IT band runs right over it. The IT band is a big band of fascia that has fascial connections into the leg. So when the IT band is loosened it has the potential to loosen the whole leg.
The IT Band as a Shock Absorber and Stabilizer
The IT band travels from the top of the hip bone down and attaches just below the knee to a bone called the fibula. It may even have a connection into the fascia in the lower leg right down into the plantar fascia. When running, walking, or jumping is performed, this line of fascial tissue will act much like a shock absorber and distribute the initial shock through the IT Band. It is pretty amazing to think that humans have a shock absorber built into their body to distribute ground forces throughout the leg.
To Roll or NOT to Roll
That is the question! In the video with James Waslaski, he talks about addressing the cause of the IT band tightness, which are the muscles that attach to the IT band, and then mobilizing the IT Band in order to loosen the fascial connections throughout the quadriceps, hamstring and adductors. Rolling the IT Band acts much like a steamroller which compresses the IT band onto the Quadriceps muscle. Therefore making it tighter than before.
Is your Structural balance causing IT Band Tightness
I have to add this one in, something that should always be addressed first. The structure of your body is extremely important to address. If your body's alignment is off in the Hips, Cranium, Atlas/Axis or at the feet the work that you are getting on your IT band will not hold. Muscular imbalances can lead to poor posture or visa versa. So when addressing IT band tightness it is important to address muscular imbalances in movement and in posture to get the results that you are looking for.