Hey everyone, happy Tuesday! During my stint writing this blog I will be focusing on various tips for better performance in the gym. Of course, the point of Crossfit is the transfer into our everyday lives so I will discuss how to see these improvements in our everyday lives as well!
Today we will be talking about our IT bands, in my opinion these are the most neglected part of our bodies but contribute the most to helping our performance and preventing injury. If you come to my 9am and noon classes you are probably starting to get familiar with the painful exercise of rolling out our IT bands at the beginning of our class. But, don’t fear! This pain is short lived and this stretch will no longer hurt after just a week or two!
So you may be wondering what is an IT band and where is it? To begin, your IT band is a large piece of fascia that runs on the outside of your thigh from just above your hip to just below your knee. Fascia is an elastic tissue found in the body that works like your tendons. Fascia primarily surrounds your muscles and connects them to your bones, the IT bands are actually the largest piece of fascia in your body.
Cool, so what do they do? Imagine that your IT band is a giant rubber band that goes down the side of your leg. When you are running the band stretches are your leg goes back and the elastic energy propels your leg forward, aiding in the movement and saving you energy. Basically, the elastic energy in your IT band aids you in any movement that involves flexion and extension of your legs. A team of scientists at Harvard discovered that the human IT band can store 15-20 times more elastic energy than that of chimps and its energy storage potential is greater in running than walking. So, the harder you are using it the more it will help you.
The IT band is tricky in that you don’t notice it too much when it’s loose and everything is working properly but it becomes a significant bother when things aren’t going right. When your IT bands are too tight you develop what’s called IT band syndrome. As your IT band tightens it becomes inflamed and can rub against your femur or the outside of your knee. As you can probably imagine as the “rubber band” tightens it pulls things like you knees, hips, and lower back out of alignment and can cause significant pain there too. There are many different things that can cause IT band syndrome but the good news is that the way to fix it isn’t too difficult! The recipe for success here is rest and stretching.
As with anything the best treatment is prevention which is today’s tip for performance. Regularly stretch or foam roll your IT bands. If doing this hurts it is a good sign that your IT bands are too tight and need a little more attention. I know that a lot of you love to get outside and run or hike which is one of the best things about this beautiful place we live. To continue doing this pain free and get the most enjoyment out of it as possible pay a little more attention to those IT bands and keep getting out there and having fun! See you all in class this week and come in ready to do some foam rolling!
Below are a couple of the links I used to help write this post and others that could be useful to you in learning more and finding some good stretches.
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