Welcome once again to the #RunPainFree podcast. Today, Coach Jessica Marie Rose Leggio gives you the low down on your IT Band. If you thought it was just at the side of your quads and you could stretch it out, listen up, rascal – you’ve got a lot to learn!
HERE’S WHERE YOUR IT BAND IS…
Your IT band starts just below your knee. Place your hand beneath the back of your knee and grab it. Where your thumb rests is a tiny bone that protrudes out. That, my friend, is where your IT band inserts in your tibia.
The IT Band goes from your knee up the outside of your quad and hamstring and then up to your hip before fanning out and covering 80% of each glute. It then crosses your lumbar, your T-spine, and attaches to your opposite shoulder. In sum, it covers the majority of your body.
Why your IT band is super important as a runner.
Your IT Band dictates your ability to move like a human being. As we keep hammering at #RunPainFree, running is an essential human function (aka walking) with velocity to the extreme.
The IT Band’s job is to see if your body is moving in dysfunction. If you are moving in some freakasaurus sort of way, it’s going to lock you up. That’s its job, to lock you up and save you from yourself.
DO YOU EVEN FOAM ROLL?
Runner’s in the know foam roll. Runners who think they are in the know only foam roll their legs. But let’s set the record straight, them runners are damn fools; that isn’t how fascia works!
Fascia is all over your body. It’s what connects our bones, our joints, and our muscles together. It holds us together as human beings, hence the term connective tissue.
The IT band is also the densest section of fascia on your body. When you only foam roll a portion of fascia, the parts you ignored get worse. If you are foam rolling and not going right up to the joint, you are in for some problems.
Here’s why: wherever the joint is, the fascia gets taught. Why, you may ask? Simply put, the fascia’s job is to restrict your joint from moving improperly.
To get to the root cause of your injury, you have to foam-roll everything. When you do this, you’ll know where your body is in pain, where it’s not, where it’s knotted, where it’s smooth, where you didn’t realize you had aches or pains. That’s why foam rolling is the gateway to understanding your body.
When you have sticky-stuck joints, your fascia gets tauter to protect you from moving. Now that you’ve heard the explanation, are you surprised you are in pain? Are you surprised when we say you need to listen to your body and stop moving in that funky way! Where not saying fly James Brown funky, where saying fly-infested garbage funky!
If you push through the pain, take Advil, get braces, get shots, get all that business, you, my friend, have taken a one-way ticket to the hurt locker. The only person who can let you is you, but you’ve got to work it.
Sidebar: We have an episode on shortcomings of quick fixes to manage injury pain: How to overcome your fear of getting injured.
That pain was merely your body giving you feedback that you have a dysfunctional movement pattern and you need to address it. If you push through it, the hurt locker walls will only close in on your further and further.
But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can reset your dysfunctional movement pattern by releasing restrictions at that joint. You’re probably thinking, OK, foam rolling, but what else? Good question, but that takes an expert to solve. Our catch-all advice via the podcast is simply foam roll everything.
But our hot tip with your IT band is to take your time foam rolling. In the beginning, it’s going to hurt because you’re loosening up the restriction on a fundamental mobility structure. Whenever you release your funky dysfunctional muscles, it’s going to hurt. It’s going to be sore. But just like a kidney stone, the pain will soon pass.
Sidebar: Hit up #RunPainFree to get a free consultation from an expert who can identify the root cause of your injury!
THE IMPORTANCE OF RUNNER’S TORQUE.
As we established throughout our podcast episodes, most runner’s talk is nonsense. Be it a new shoe, fad diets, or killer workouts, But runner’s torque, on the other hand, is the bee’s knees. Why? Because your right knee is directly connected to your left shoulder, and your left knee is directly related to your right shoulder via the IT band.
If you see somebody running without torque, aka the stiff Frankenstein runners, that is a clear sign of a local IT band across their T-spine. When you run without moving and twisting your upper body, you create dysfunctional hips. When the upper body isn’t moving, while the hips are, you create torn hip labarums.
YOUR IT BAND IS CRUCIAL FOR YOUR POWER AS A RUNNER.
The power of a runner is in the arch of their foot and their torque. If you don’t have those two things, that’s indicative that something is going awry.
When you’re restricted at the lower part of your IT band, your push-off is as limp as overcooked spaghetti – you want it al-dente! If you have a lame push-off, you’re not using your foot, and you’re deconditioning the power in your arch, which (god forbid) coupled with a stability sneaker disallows your foot to move, limiting ankle flexion and extension.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR IT BAND AND YOUR HIPS.
The IT Band’s most fibrous point is where it crosses the hips, and guess where your hips are; it’s below your butt. Yeah, newsflash: Your hip joint is below your butt. When you stand up and put your hands on your hips, that isn’t your hips; it’s your iliac crest.
Your hips and your back are the two most important structures in your body in terms of mobility. Do you think it is a coincidence that your IT band is extremely fibrous in those areas? No, as we stated earlier, it is there to protect those structures!
KNEE PAIN AND YOUR IT BAND.
Knee pain is the first sign that there’s a bigger problem at play. But rest assured, it’s the easiest thing to fix and the fastest way to identify the root cause of your injury. But the caveat is, if you don’t jump on it quickly wise, it’s also the fastest way to get a nasty injury.
Knee pain and shin splints go together like two peas in a pod. Why? They result from you not extending your stride because your IT band has restricted your knee to hip function. Consequently, your glute won’t fire. When your glute isn’t firing, the hamstring does the glute’s job and acts as a stabilizing muscle.
Sounds good; your hamstring is taking one for the team. But guess what, when the hamstring doesn’t do its job of extending, it results in many problems.
ACHILLES AND HAMSTRING PROBLEMS
Your Achilles goes way up to your booty, right beneath your glutes. So if anything is wrong up there, the muscular representation of hip dysfunction is hamstring problems.
When your hamstring is in dysfunction, your IT Band puts it spidey-senses to work and restricts your movement. So then you find yourself in a whole new world of trouble.
We are going to bullet point Coach Jessica’s comment here (because there’s a lot, and it is all useful)
IT band and hamstring dysfunction can lead to:
· short striding
· toe striking
· shin splint
· tight calves
· knee pain
· overdeveloped quads
· pelvic tilt
· lower back pain
· tight psoas
· groin pain
· restricted hips
This smorgasbord of injuries is all because of your poor neglected IT band. Learn to respect it, and thank it for protecting you from yourself. Once you release your IT band and you get the proper muscles firing, you are on the path to running pain-free.
TAKE AWAY LESSON
You can’t stretch out tissue. If anybody told you to stretch out your IT Band, please walk away and never see that person again. The tissue is tension and needs to be pressed out. And muscle is “tightness,” and it needs to be stretched out.
Foam rolling is the gateway to allowing your muscles and joints to start to move and tell you what they can or can’t do. When you address that, you can condition a new mobility pattern.
There’s a rhythmic dance the body does underneath those cute run outfits you put on each run, and you should pay more attention to that than your color combinations.
01:12 Here’s where your IT Band is…
03:32 Do you even foam roll?
10:14 The Importance of runner’s torque
12:41 Your IT band is crucial for your power as a runner
14:17 The connection between your IT Band and your hips
20:00 Knee pain and your IT band
24:47 Take away lesson
KEY LEARNING POINTS
· Your IT band’s job is to protect you from moving dysfunctionally. If your IT band is jacked, you are will likely encounter many more injuries
· Your IT band starts at the back of your knee and ends on the opposite shoulder; it is not just on your outer quads!
· You can’t stretch your IT band; you need to foam roll it!
Marathon Training Summit: MarathonTrainingSummit.com
Get an Assessment With Jessica: https://www.runpainfreenow.com.
Resources & Programs To Run Injury-Free: https://www.runpainfreeacademy.com
#RunPainFree Bootcamp: https://www.runpainfreebootcamp.com/
Thanks so much for tuning in this week. We hope the nuggets of information help you deepen your understanding of your IT band’s function and the intricate role it plays in allowing you to run!
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