Have you ever felt an aching, burning sensation on the outside of your knee? Did you feel it just after you went for a run, finished on a long hike or took a nice bike ride? This pain is usually a sign of IT Band Syndrome. While it does require conscious effort to treat an IT band issue, it’s easily managed within a few weeks. There are a number of easy ways to remedy this painful condition from home, so we’re going to get into what works and what doesn’t, including whether Theragun IT band treatment is a real thing, and how it works.
*Disclaimer – though we take steps to ensure we are providing you with the correct information, we are not medical professionals. You should always exercise caution and speak with a licensed medical professional if you have an injury and before using a massage gun.
What Is the IT Band?
The Iliotibial Band, or IT Band for short, is a grouping of connective tissue that runs from the outside of the hip down the outside of the leg along the thigh. It connects to the shinbone below the knee. The IT band’s role is to help extend, abduct and rotate your hip and protect the thigh and stabilize your knee, or at least that’s been the age-old belief.
Researchers out of Harvard wanted to test this thinking, and their study of the IT band led to a surprising discovery, noting that “We found that the human IT band has the capacity to store 15 to 20 times more elastic energy per body mass than its much-less-developed precursor structure in a chimp,”
You can think of the IT band as being sort of like an elastic band that helps the hips and legs spring into motion. While their research is ongoing, the Harvard researchers believe that this could impact the way that IT band injuries are treated.
For now, we can use it to think about the way we treat IT Band Syndrome.
IT Band Syndrome
IT Band Syndrome is temporary lateral knee pain (if treated properly) that feels like aching and burning in the outer side of the knee.
A number of things can cause IT Band Syndrome including overuse, improper running form, the wrong pair of shoes (or lack of orthotics) and weak or tight hip muscles.
It’s quite common for young athletes and those who regularly exercise as its easily caused by:
- Negating to warm up/cool down properly
- Pushing beyond your limits or increasing training too quickly
- Straining your body or improper form
- Not resting/allowing the body to heal between workouts
- Wearing improper shoes, failing to wear orthotics
- Training on poor surfaces (different surface types are suited to different things)
- Incorrect bicycle fitting
Can I Use a Massage Gun on My IT Band?
The short answer to this question is yes, but with caution. However, it really can’t be overstated that it’s important to use a tool as powerful as a massage gun in a smart, responsible way.
Possibly the most recommended method of treatment for IT Band syndrome is stretching, which helps increase flexibility and range of motion, increases blood flow, strengthens the muscle or fascia and can also help to improve or correct your posture so that the same injury is prevented in the future.
However, a percussive therapy device for a tight IT band is also a great way to address the issues that are causing the problem, as well as to provide pain relief.
Does Theragun Help With IT Band Pain?
Theragun has been used successfully to treat many problems like tight hips, lower back pain, tennis elbow and, as mentioned above, IT Band Syndrome is one of these conditions. The Theragun works on the fascia and muscles directly surrounding the IT band, helping to relax them and allowing the IT band to move more freely. By drawing blood to the area it nourishes the soft tissue, brings pain-relieving endorphins and clears away debris. This all helps to alleviate the symptoms associated with the condition.
Theragun IT Band Treatment
The IT band is quite wide but is rather thin, which can lead to it adhering to the muscles below. This can cause some of the tightness that you might experience. You can use your Theragun to massage along the band itself in order to break up any adhesions. This will also improve blood flow, which can help to increase the range of motion and improve elasticity.
You should be most careful at the origin of the IT band, which is where it connects to the tibial bone at the knee.
Using Theragun On Surrounding Muscles
Right about where you put your hand in your pocket is where the tensor fascia lata is located. It begins just below the superior iliac spine, which is that prominent angular bone that you can feel. This is where the IT band connects at the top-front. Use your Theragun here to loosen up the area and get the IT band to release some tension.
Be careful not to cross the femoral crease into the groin area with your Theragun.
You can also massage the glute muscles, as this is where the IT band connects on the back end. Any tension in the glutes can lead to a tightening in the IT band, so it’s a good idea to spend some time here with your Theragun to loosen tightness and to relieve soreness.
Remember that with muscles, you want to begin at the insertion of the muscle and work toward the origin. This will help with optimal muscle recovery and relaxation.
Can Theragun Be Harmful?
The Theragun is a percussive massage device, and it can be harmful if used in the wrong way. What might feel good physically or psychologically can actually be causing you harm in the long run; the no pain, no gain mantra is dangerous when it comes to improper massage gun use.
You should always avoid spots that are painful – there is a difference between sore and painful – and it’s always a good idea to discuss with your qualified health provider before you begin using a massage gun and to come up with a plan for its use.
While the IT band can be the source of some very uncomfortable acute pain, if you treat it properly and make changes to your lifestyle, you can reduce or eliminate IT band issues. Some helpful ideas are getting a better pair of shoes, taking longer recovery breaks between workouts, and using shorter strides when running.
Thankfully home remedies tend to be the prescribed treatment, and Theragun IT band treatment is one that you can enjoy while kicking back and relaxing.