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How to Use a Foam Roller for ITB Release

Learn how to use a foam roller for ITB release in this Howcast video about physical therapy exercises for the knees.


Hi, my name is Eric Sampson and I want to talk a few minutes about how to do an ITB release using the foam roller. An ITB is short for your iliotibial band and this is your piece of tissue that runs along the lateral side of your leg, stemming from your hip all the way down to knee. It tends to get really tight on the exercise population, especially runners. There's a lot of friction at your hip and at your knee, where the piece of tissue, the band attaches.

And with repetitive exercise you can cause a lot of friction at those points, which can eventually lead to irritation and eventually some pain. At that point, it's really hard to use the foam roller to release the tension. The idea is to maybe rest for a couple of days from exercise and give it a chance to heal a little bit, and then it's time to probably go after it with some stretching techniques. As therapists, we've been trying to stretch it with the old fashioned way of a trunk lean or a hands-on approach, but it doesn't seem to be hitting it correctly.

And this is what we came up with over the last few years which is much more effective. It's a little painful, because the tissue is very tender but in the end it's very effective over the course of a few weeks of doing. So why don't you come on your side? Okay, good. Come up right there. The whole idea is to try to use the foam roller and roll back and forth. You can probably swing this leg over here. Roll back and forth along the lateral side of your leg, using your arms to assist.

Trying to get as high up to your hip and down all the way by your knee. This is an aggressive stretch, although she's giving herself a little bit of a break with her foot over here, trying to give her some support. You can progress this to having both legs lined up on top of one another, which is very intense but also very, very effective. You'll be rolling for about one minute back and forth, taking a break and then maybe doing two reps is the idea, and because this is a stretch, you might want to do it on a daily basis, until a lot of that tension is released.

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