TOUCH vol. 2 - Page 18

There is a lot of information circulating the internet these days about foam rolling. From holy praise in one article to heavy criticism in the next, it can be a little difficult to figure out what to believe. Here’s our two-cents worth on foam rolling — when and where it can be appropriate and where to avoid using it. Let’s talk about the IT Band first. Many of us have at least heard of this structure in the outside of our thighs, but what do we really know about it? For starters it’s not a muscle but a thick band of fascia that connects to the pelvis and the knee, linking a whole bunch of surrounding musculature. And it’s notoriously tight. But rather than being a bad thing, the IT band is actually MEANT to be tight. What!? Yes, indeed there is such a thing as good tension. Because it is not a muscle, it has almost zero contractility and cannot readily change length to accommodate the actions of the body. The primary action of the Iliotibial Band is to stabilize the knee, and to do this effectively, it needs to be taut. So the first thing we need to do is to dispel the idea that we need to loosen it – we don’t, and chronic foam rolling of the IT Band can cause issues. I’ve actually heard someone say “roll right up onto your IT Band, and if it hurts then it’s too tight”. In fact, if we accept this kind of logic we’ll all be rolling out our IT Bands until the end of time, because it’s always going to hurt. This is not to say that all foam rolling is bad. In fact, it can be quite useful on many fronts: self-healing in between massage treatments, flexibility training, athletic preparation and warm-down protocols after intense workouts. These benefits are found when we roll muscle tissue. Going back to the above example of the IT Band — if you’re