Yep, that’s right crew. Stop trying to smash out your IT band. Nothing is going to change!
This is because your IT band is exactly that – a band of thick fascia that runs down the lateral (outside) aspect of the thigh. Fascia does not change in LENGTH. We can alter the consistency or stickiness of the band with respect to the underlying muscle tissue or vastus lateralis (one of the 4 quadriceps muscles) but unless we start to target the TFL or Tensor Fascae Latae muscle, the “tightness” will remain.
What is the TFL?
The TFL is one of the flexors of the hip, but also helps to abduct (take leg out to the side) and medially rotate (inward) the thigh. This small muscle originates on the ilium and anterior iliac crest and inserts onto the lateral tibial condyle through the iliotibial band. So if the TFL is tight, it can cause increased pull on the ITB.
If you have trigger points in your TFL, you will likely feel pain at the front/side of the hip which can radiate down along the outside of the thigh to the lateral aspect of the knee.
How to release the TFL?
The best way I have found of releasing these spots is either with the handle of a kettlebell digging into the TFL or a with lacrosse ball. Both of these mobility exercises can be found in the MobilizeMe app.
Failing any release with those, dry needling works amazingly well (I’ve been known to needle myself to get relief, but don’t try that at home unless you’re actually trained…)
As with everything else, you need to consult with a practitioner to figure out the WHY – as in WHY you are getting triggers in your TFL. There could be some additional problems you need to consider, such as inhibition/weakness or overuse of gluteus medius, minimus, iliopsoas/iliacus, adductors, piriformis, obturator,etc. Continually smashing out a tight muscle won’t get rid of the problem entirely, if there is something else CAUSING the problem.