For All Spinning® Enthusiasts

Oh My Aching Hips

If you do a lot of cycling and or running, chances are you might suffer from tight Ilial Tibial Bands (ITB's). The ITB's are connected to the outside of the hips at the Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) and they run down the outer edge of the leg past the knee and connect to the Tibia (shin) bone. The ITB's are not muscle, but they are connective tissue and as such, they have an ability to contract and they help maintain your leg alignment for activities such as running and cycling. They also can end up assisting the Quadriceps and Hamstring muscles when they are overloaded. Anytime the overload on a tissue is disproportionate to the amount of recovery required, it is soon to behave in a manner to get your attention. Usually that is to send pain signals to you, the human, who is in charge of the type and amount of movement you do. Over trained ITB's can cause pain in the lower back, outer hips, sides of thighs, sides of knees and in the area just below the knees or into the upper calf muscles. One of the best ways to alleviate the tension is to get on a foam roller and massage the ITB's. This is called "Myofascial Release" because not only does it massage the fascia, but it also massages the "myo" or muscle. The technique is to simply lie on your side on top of the foam roller and use your forearm on the floor and the foot of your top leg to propel your body from the outer hip to near the knee and back up again. You may roll on one side of your body for 1-2 minutes, pausing on any spots that are more tender. Be careful not to roll directly over boney protrusions such as knee caps if you change your position. If a foam roller is not available at your gym, then you may use a rolling pin by wrapping a towel around it and securing the towel with rubber bands. Instead of lying on it, you would use the handles and roll it up and down the outside of your leg, or ask a friend or family member to do it for you. I have been at the gym and had people swear that rolling on a piece of foam has changed their lives and they can't live without their foam rollers! So if you have tightness that doesn't go away with regular stretching, try rolling. Once you have rolled out your hips, you may wish to try other body parts and that is safe to do with the exception of rolling tender areas such abdominal or *** tissue. You will find that it can end up being quite the upper body and core workout to hold your body on the piece of foam and roll around. It is also the perfect precursor to stretching since it warms your tissue and generates circulation. Written by master instructor Sabrina Fairchild for community.spinning.com 04/30/2011
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