Host: Dr. Matt Minard

Episode Summary

Dr. Matt Minard, the owner of Learn 2 Run, is a Physical Therapist who enjoys both the physical and mental benefits of running. He is passionate about helping others run safely.

In this episode, Dr. Minard discusses IT Band Friction Syndrome. He identifies the negative effects of foam rolling, running form mistakes associated with it, and key principles for recovery or prevention of further injury.

Stop foam rolling your IT band

Top Takeaways

  • “You have to push the ground back to propel your forward.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]
  • “Sometimes things are weak because they’re inhibited and it hurts.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]
  • “We capture, classify, and correct.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]
  • “You can learn anything. You can learn to run without picking your feet up.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]
  • “Please spare your IT band of compressive forces.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]

Episode Highlights

  • [00:38] Today’s topic is the IT Band Friction Syndrome.
  • [01:25] An introduction to the TFL and IT Band.
  • [03:57] The role of Friction in IT band pain.
  • [08:05] Running form faults that cause IT band friction; the Pose Method.
  • [12:30] Using good running posture to reduce IT band friction.
  • [13:50] The second form fault; Weaving.
  • [17:01] Why you should not foam roll your IT bands.
  • [20:35] Addressing IT Band Friction Syndrome.

Episode Notes

What is the IT band?

The IT Band or iliotibial tract is a long, fibrous band of flexible fascia that extends from the hip to just below the outside of the knee, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Where is the IT band?

Diagram of TFL and IT band

Diagram of TFL and IT band. | Photo from

The easiest way to find the IT band is by starting with its parent muscle, the “Tensor Fasciae Latae” or TFL. To identify this muscle, straighten out your right leg. Imagine sliding your right hand into your front pocket. Now rotate your leg inwards. The muscle you feel contract in this process is the TFL.

With your hands still placed as they were, slide down your leg. You will notice a sensitive tissue extending down to just below the knee cap. This is the IT Band.

What causes pain in the IT band?

Pain in the IT band is due to an area of friction. When you start to bend your knee from a straightened position, the band stays towards the front for the first 30° but beyond that, the band slides over a bony prominence. This is where friction exists.

How to stop IT band friction

The first step to reducing the friction in the zone is to avoid using the TFL when running forward. The function of the TFL is not useful for running forward. It flexes and internally rotates the hip joint.

Two common running form mistakes increase the friction around the IT band:

  • Pulling up your feet instead of pushing the ground backward when running
  • Weaving
Push, don’t pull

Scientists who identified “the Pose Method” realized that running is a skill that can be mastered. They noted the role of gravity, falling, and leaning to create momentum. However, they wrongly encouraged pulling up the feet to move forward. Instead, one should push the earth back to move forward.

This may be confusing to think about. One thing that may help is imagining you were in a canoe. The way you push water back with the paddle to move a canoe forward uses the same theory.

Pulling the feet up forces you to bend your knees more than is necessary, which is inefficient. It burns more energy and increases the friction in the IT band.

To correct your running posture and reduce the friction, keep your feet closer to the ground. This would mean less knee bending, prevent pulling up the legs, and promote pushing with the gluteus muscle. We spoke more on the “push with the tush” method in a previous episode.

Stay in your lane, stop weaving

Weaving involves motions unnecessary in running. It is a common unconscious bad habit among newer runners.

As a result, new runners make more use of the TFL muscle. This increases of tightness which, consequently, increases the pressure on the IT band.

Weaving can be corrected by staying in a single lane when running. This is often enough to get a runner to break this bad habit.

Alternatively, Dr. Minard works on the running movements outside the track before reintegration back into track running. This is done through the drill called “the running human” where runners are asked to run in place with a band between them. It quickly becomes obvious when they are driving their knee towards the opposite shoulder, using the TFL.

Runners work on driving the legs and keeping them on a straight path before going back to the track.

Additionally, mastering how to push back against the ground makes weaving very unlikely.


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Foam rolling worsens your IT Band Friction Syndrome. Stop.

Man foam rolling his IT Band

Foam rolling is not generally bad. But it often worsens friction and pain when applied to the IT band.

The IT band is not stretchable and rolling only serves to mash it down to the Vastus Lateralis muscle. Rather than foam rolling, Dr. Minard often suggests mobilizing the band by pulling it away from the muscle using a toilet plunger or through cupping.

Identify IT Band Friction Syndrome based on the nature of the pain

Very often, it occurs as a dull pain on the outer part of the knee. Over time this can become a stabbing severe pain. In the early stages, the pain goes away after running. Without treatment, however, the pain becomes persistent causing terrible discomfort throughout the day.

Professional help is crucial because restriction of movement may come with pain and joint weakness. Simply doing strengthening exercises on the knee would worsen the pain. Exercises like squats and hip abduction strengthening are not advisable in the early phases. It is also important to minimize stair climbing and crossing your legs while sitting. Adopt the use of handrails when climbing stairs. You should strive to create an optimal environment around the joint for recovery.

It is often easy to take away the pain, but keeping it away is where the work lies. Dr. Minard tries to teach other Physical Therapists or Chiropractors his modality is to capture, classify, and correct. Capture running form errors on video, classify them and correct them. Tools employed off the track to correct running forms are to be a temporary guide used to get to the point where they are no longer needed.

To vote on the next topic that will be discussed follow Dr. Minard on Instagram. For professional help with running smarter, safer, and faster, check Dr. Minard’s running memberships.


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