The IT Band (Iliotibial Band) is a dense line of connective tissue that runs down the lateral side of your legs from the hip to the knee. Many of the large muscles on the front and back of the leg attach into the IT Band. When there is inflammation of the IT Band, or if it is working too hard to compensate for other muscles’ weakness, something called IT Band Syndrome occurs. This is an incredibly common injury in runners, rowers, hikers, and certain swimmers. It can be caused by over-doing any activity that activates the IT Band or causes the leg to turn slightly inward, thereby causing a pull on the outer part of the leg (such as running on a banked track or sitting cross-legged.) It can also be caused by an imbalance in the stabilizing muscles of the hip, buttock, and low back. If one of these large muscles isn’t firing properly, smaller muscles connecting to the IT Band pick up the slack and work over-time. (See an excellent discussion of this phenomenon here.) Lastly, IT Band Syndrome can sometimes be caused by anatomical or body dynamics issues, such as high arches, uneven legs, or over supination or pronation of the foot while walking or running (landing too much on the inside or outside arch of the foot.)
The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle that runs across the buttock and laterally rotates the hip. It runs from the anterior (front) of the sacrum to the head of the femur (the bony notch on the outside of your hip, the top of your upper leg.) The piriformis is a very important muscle clinically because the sciatic nerve runs right alongside the piriformis. In about 15-17% of the population, the sciatic nerve actually runs through the piriformis muscle. This means that stress or injury to the piriformis muscle can irritate the sciatic nerve, and cause sciatica. When the piriformis muscle is the cause of sciatic pain, the condition is called piriformis syndrome.
Frozen Shoulder, or “adhesive capsulitis” refers to a painful musculoskeletal condition characterized by pain and stiffness of the shoulder joint. The tendons, bones, and ligaments that make up the shoulder joint are encased in a connective tissue, fluid-filled capsule. In cases of Frozen Shoulder, this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint and/or the fluid becomes thicker, restricting movement and causing pain. It is somewhat of a medical mystery – we don’t exactly know why Frozen Shoulder occurs, and it presents differently in different people. Frozen Shoulder tends to gradually get worse with time, and then gradually gets better. Some people have symptoms for up to 2 years. For some patients, the stiffness is merely annoying – for other patients, pain levels can be incredibly severe and the pain can interfere with sleep, work, driving, and activities of daily living. You are more likely to develop Frozen Shoulder if you are recovering from a procedure that immobilizes the joint for a period of time, such as surgery or a mastectomy. Frozen Shoulder is also more common in middle aged individuals – in certain countries in Asia it is referred to as “40-year shoulder” or “50-year shoulder.”
The Tensor Fasciae Latae is a small but powerful muscle of the lateral hip. It originates from the side of your pelvis, and inserts itself into the IT Band – a dense band of connective tissue that runs from your hip down your lateral thigh to just below your knee. The Tensor Fasciae Latae (or TFL) is an important hip stabilizer, keeping one foot in front of the other as you walk. It also abducts the hip (lifting your leg out to the side away from your center), as well as flexes the hip and internally rotates the thigh. The TFL works in conjunction with many of the larger muscles of the hip to perform these important tasks.
Get in for a massage today - your body, your mind, and your heart will thank you.
My suggestion it to do a “Detox Lifestyle Overhaul”, which involves making a number of small health choices that you can then choose to continue or stop, after you see how they serve you for one month. Here are my suggestions for a January Detox:
Feeling stressed? Try to self-massage these acupuncture points to help yourself feel better.