Are you a runner? Or, in my case, are you an inconsistent light-jogger that moves at a slightly faster pace than speed walkers?
Whatever your speed is, you probably have a stiff IT band and have tried a gazillion stretches to loosen it up. Maybe you have even tried one of those foam rollers that just hurts so good. But after all that, is your IT band still “tight?”
Maybe you aren’t sure if your IT band is stiff. In that case, I want you to ask yourself if you have any bothersome pain while running or after running, like knee pain, hip pain, back pain, or foot pain. Your IT band may be contributing to these frustrating symptoms that affect your runs.
So how can you get that annoying band to loosen up?
First, let’s discuss what the IT band is. God is clever, and He didn’t put tissue in our bodies to hang out there. It all serves a purpose.
IT band stands for iliotibial band. By its name, it is a band of thick fascia that connects the ilium to the tibia. The connection to the ilium, a part of your pelvis, is by way of the tensor fascia latae muscle, aka the muscle that tenses your fascia a-lotta!
When the tensor fascia latae contracts, the IT band tenses. If this happens repeatedly (a lotta!), the IT band gets tight, or as I like to describe it, short or stiff.
So the answer to the age-old question of stiff IT bands across running circles all over the world…
If you’re a runner whose IT band is stiff, it’s because you contract your tensor fascia latae too much.
Contract a muscle too much? Is it so? Can it be possible? Yes. It is possible to contract a muscle too much if it means you are neglecting the muscle’s counterpart, therefore altering the joint’s balance. In the case of runners and IT bands, a stiff IT band usually signals that the runner does not use his/her gluteals enough. This muscle imbalance commonly leads to pain because it alters hip and knee joint mechanics.
You may think I am going to tell you to do gluteal strengthening exercises and bippity-boppity-boo, you’re healed.
I wish it were that easy. While strengthening exercises can be useful, I am going to suggest that you change the way you run.
It is incredibly difficult to change your running form, but in my next post, I will give you 3 simple clues to think about when you’re running so you use your gluteals relatively more than you use your tensor fascia latae and IT band. With these 3 tips, you will rely less on your tensor fascia latae and IT band, therefore it won’t get so stiff! And word on the street is, these tips will help you run faster…
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