Is This A “No-Go” Zone With The Foam Roller?

flexibility training for hockey goalies

As much as Facebook has it’s down sides, there are huge upsides – I love it.

I was scanning my NewsFeed, which is pretty much all either training info or goalie stuff and I saw one of my mentors, Dr. Thomas Myers commenting on an article from Andrew Franklyn-Miller – the summary was posted on LinkdIn but the original source article is:

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Aug;20(4):580-7. Iliotibial band syndrome: an examination of the evidence behind a number of treatment options

Anyway, Dr. Myers said something like ‘I want to meet this guy’ and I was like “Wow, if Thomas wants to meet him, so do I”. So I read the post and it was a nice objective review of the anatomy of the Iliotibial band (ITB).

So if you have ever been told you need to stretch your ITB, then you better keep reading 🙂

I always make a puzzled look (like when you see a pug do their head-tilt look) when a player comes back from a physio or chiropractor appointment and tells me – “they said I need to stretch my IT Band”.

The IT Band is a thick, fibrous connective tissue band – how the heck are you going to stretch THAT? And should you stretch it? Isn’t it strong and fibrous for a reason?

The study referenced here showed through dissection that the ITB also attaches to the femur (along the linea aspera) along the entire length of the femur, so again, how to do you actually lengthen it when it is integral to the bone.

In a single sentence, here is the conclusion…

“So we can see that endlessly foam rolling the ITB can not only irritate the fat pad but compresses Vastus lateralis. Focused soft tissue release should be directed at TFL and Gluteus Medius which act as a direct tensioning to the fascia but no role in the ‘release’ of the fascial band itself, which is adherent via a fascial investment to the femur along its length.”

So – – does this change what we do?

Not dramatically.

We have long focused our ITB myofascial work on the anterior and posterior borders where it joins the lateral quadriceps and the lateral hamstrings.

I will encourage our athletes to spend a little more time working up into the glute medius on the upper outer hip as I think it gets missed because you spend more time on the part of the glutes you sit on rather than working up toward the top of the pelvis.

If you currently zip up and down along the middle part of your ITB, you can probably stop – if you love it and feel like it is exactly what you need, then you can keep doing it, just because anatomic study (on dead people) does not support it, if you love it, I won’t argue with you.