The immediate effects of foam rolling and stretching on iliotibial band stiffness: A randomized controlled trial

Talin M. Pepper, Jean Michel Brismée, Phillip S. Sizer, Jeegisha Kapila, Gesine H. Seeber, Christopher A. Huggins, Troy L. Hooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is a common clinical condition likely caused by abnormal compressive forces to the iliotibial band (ITB). Stretching interventions are common in ITBS treatment and may predominantly affect tensor fascia latae (TFL). Another ITBS treatment is foam rolling, which may more directly affect the ITB. Shear wave ultrasound elastography (SWUE) measures real-time soft tissue stiffness, allowing tissue changes to be measured and compared. Purpose To examine effects of foam rolling and iliotibial complex stretching on ITB stiffness at 0˚ and 10˚ of hip adduction and hip adduction passive range of motion (PROM). Study Design Randomized controlled trial. Methods Data from 11 males (age = 30.5 ± 9.0 years, Body Mass Index (BMI) = 27.8 ± 4.0) and 19 females (age = 23.5 ± 4.9, BMI = 23.2 ± 2.1) were analyzed for this study. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups: control, stretching, and foam rolling. Shear wave ultrasound elastography measurements included ITB Young’s modulus at the mid-thigh, the distal femur and the TFL muscle belly. ITB-to-femur depth was measured at mid-thigh level. Hip adduction PROM was measured from digital images taken during the movement. Results No significant interactions or main effects were found for group or time differences in ITB Young’s modulus at the three measured locations. The ITB stiffness at the mid-thigh and distal femur increased with 10° adduction, but TFL stiffness did not increase. A main effect for adduction PROM was observed, where PROM increased 0.8˚ post-treatment (p = 0.02). Conclusion A single episode of stretching and foam rolling does not affect short-term ITB stiffness. The lack of ITB stiffness changes may be from an inadequate intervention stimulus or indicate that the interventions have no impact on ITB stiffness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-661
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Adduction
  • Hip
  • Range of motion
  • Shear wave ultrasound elastography
  • Tensor fascia latae


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