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Dear IT-bands: I love you and I hate you

Dear IT-bands: I love you and I hate you

Everybody wants to punch me in the face 

when I work on their IT-bands, but they always tell me that they can tell it is a good pain.


 

What exactly is my IT-band?

Your Iliotibial band is a thick piece of connective tissue that runs from your gluts and TFL (tensor fasciae latae muscle) down to the lateral (outside) part of your knee.

The IT-band is not a muscle.

It is the thickest part of connective tissue that wraps around your entire leg!


 

Why does it hurt so much when massaged?

The IT-band has neither nerves or blood flow directly to it.  This means that it takes a long long long time to heal and repair itself.

If there are no nerves, why does it hurt so much?20140422_184314

For many reasons (dehydration, repetitive motion, stagnation, etc.), the IT-band will actually stick to the muscle that lives right underneath it.

The vastus  lateralis is one of your quad muscles that wraps around the outside of your leg.  This is the muscle that your IT-band is most likely sticking to, which can cause trigger points.  When you are rolling on a foam roller or getting it massaged, this is why it can hurt in only certain spots.

The IT-band can be responsible for hip and knee pain.

In Chinese medicine, your gallbladder meridian runs right along your IT-band.  This is associated with decision making, organization, and clarity.  Also, digestion and flexibility. Do any of these aspects of your life seem a little out of whack?


 What can I do at home to keep my IT-band healthy?

STRETCH STRETCH STRETCH

Some of my favorite stretches that target the IT-band include:2014-04-23 15.36.29

1) A simple twist (if you have SI joint issues do with caution or not at all). Then straighten your top leg through the heel.  Push through the heel as hard as you need to to feel a good stretch.  And, because of the twist you will probably feel this in your low back and hips. Make sure to do both sides.

20140422_183921

 

2) A simple forward fold.  This will get your hamstrings!  If you want to stretch your back, bend your knees a little.  If you want more hamstrings, keep your knees straight.  To get this in your IT-band cross one ankle over the other and forward fold.  You should feel it the back leg.  Oh, yah!

20140422_184235

 

3) A good hip stretch that I’ve heard called figure four.  You cross one ankle over the other leg jus
t above the knee and sit.  Your legs make what looks like a figure 4.  You can do this standing or laying on the ground.  Keep your foot on your knee flexed if you have knee problems.

4) To add onto 3, you will be seated and stack your knees as much as y2014-04-23 15.35.55ou can.  Sit in between your
feet and lean forward to feel the stretch in your hips.  Oh god, yes!  I’m just saying, it feels good.

Sometimes emotions and stress are carried in our hips.  If “stuff” comes up while or after doing these stretches don’t worry and try to process as much as you can.  Breathe!


 

 

Add these into your routine to help keep movement and flow between all the tissues of your legs.  Next time you come in for a massage, when I get to the IT band part you won’t want to punch me in the face.  It will actually feel good!

These are just a few stretches.  If you want more, have questions, want more info about IT-bands, and/or want to set up an appointment shoot me an email at nicole@greenskymassage.com

have a fantastic day!

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