One stat I see quoted a lot from practitioners and coaches is how much force it takes to stretch the ITB. The conclusion is often taken that because it requires so much force to stretch the ITB, you shouldn’t bother foam rolling (or massaging it).
The ITB is thick. It’s like rope. And the first part of the conclusion is right – you ain’t gonna stretch it. But it’s also forgetting there’s a whole lot of other tissue in the lateral thigh. And we can hold tension in that tissue. This tension can cause issues and lead to pain.
Whether or not foam rolling actually “loosens” muscles or releases tension in some ways doesn’t matter. The key question is does it make people feel better. There’s also no harm in rolling, so I don’t see why we should hold people back if they want to do it.
So if foam rolling makes you feel better, that’s awesome. Go for it. Feeling better will make you perform better so that’s a big win. If you don’t feel any benefit, don’t bother doing it. No loss.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I actually think the messaging around foam rolling should be this:
It’s not enough. It can’t be your only solution. It won’t correct the underlying issue that’s lead you to feel that tension or pain. But by all means it can be part of the solution. And if it gives you short term relief then that’s fantastic.
And for the record, I personally don’t find much benefit from it. But I know lots of you do, so roll on!