Today we are going to be looking at the IT band and how to use myofascial release techniques to alleviate knee stiffness and mobility.
What is the IT Band?
The IT band is connective tissue that’s responsible for hip flexion. It originates at the top of the pelvis and goes right the way down to the knee.
Most of us spend a long period of time sitting each day. This seated position causes our IT band to tighten and pull on our knee laterally, which is a major cause of knee stiffness or the twinges of discomfort we often feel.
The way to alleviate this pain and stiffness is with an IT band release. This release will also help keep our knee in alignment with the rest of our body, also helping to prevent other injuries.
We are going to look at two myofascial release techniques that you can use to loosen the IT band to help relieve the discomfort a lot of people feel when they have knee issues
So let’s get into how to do the IT band release today we’re going to be using two tools – the medicine ball and the lacrosse ball.
IT Band Release With a Medicine Ball
First we are going to look at how to do the release with the medicine ball (the Phoenix 3Kg Ball on Amazon will do the trick nicely). You can use a foam roller for IT band release, but the medicine ball is much more effective because it’s harder and more focussed.
To do this position yourself on your side. You are going to start with the ball midway between your hip and your knee of your bottom leg. The bottom leg is going to be the one we work on initially and make sure you keep your bottom leg straight.
The top leg is going to be bent so your foot is planted on the floor. This can be an uncomfortable release, especially if your IT bands are tight, so the bent top leg allows you to control how much pressure you want to put on that bottom leg.
Now you are just going to roll back and forth. Once you find an area that’s more painful than in others stop moving around and just hang out there for a minute and wait for the pain to subside. The pain may not subside completely but it’ll get a little better. As it does this try to put a bit more pressure on the spot.
Once you have rolled up and down your leg, found and released any trigger points, it is time to roll over and do the same on your other leg. Once you have done this, it is time to really hit those trigger points with the Lacrosse ball.
IT Band Release With a Lacrosse Ball
Now, once you have loosened things up with the medicine ball, it is time to move on to the IT band release with the lacrosse ball. The lacrosse ball allows you to really target specific areas (click here to buy our Lacrosse Ball on Amazon).
To do this, position yourself on your side once again. Now place the ball a few inches above your the knee, between your leg and the floor. Then, place your hand on your inner thigh and press your leg down on top of the ball.
Gradually move the ball around your leg, spending time targetting those tender spots until the pain dies down. Once you have covered this leg, roll over and do the same thing on the other side.
How Long Should You Do IT Band Release Exercises?
I would recommend doing both of these releases for at least four to five minutes on each side or until you feel the relief. The medicine ball will loosen up your IT band nicely, but if you feel like you weren’t able to really pinpoint those areas of tenderness with the medicine ball, you can really nail it with the lacrosse ball
Our IT bands get a really tough time in our sedentary lifestyles. Sitting in front of a computer can cause them to noticeably shorten and stiffen. These IT band release exercises, accompanied by getting up and walking around rather than sitting all day, can really help address many knee issues.