ITB Massage Chair Hack From A Customer!

March 19, 2024
 By Dr. Alan Weidner
March 19, 2024
 By Dr. Alan Weidner

ITB Massage Chair Hack From A Customer!

What Are IlioTibial Bands?

The IlioTibial Bands (ITB) are strips of ligamentous soft tissue that extend from the hips down to the knees,

ITB Syndrome

Image Source Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy

along the outer thigh. It is relatively thin tissue that can cause quite a bit of discomfort, including outer knee pain (Iliotibial Band Syndrome). The pain can be active, particularly for runners and cyclists. That means the pain is overt and present. It can also be latent, which means that there is no overt pain on the ITB during the course of regular daily activities, but can be elicited by touching the ITB.

Most folks don’t even know that their ITB is tender until they bump up against something or a massage therapist applies pressure to the outer thigh during a session. Massage and stretching are common treatments for ITB tightness. The pain can be right between your hips and knees.

What Does This Have To Do With Massage Chairs?

Most massage chairs have air cells that compress against the outer thighs of the user. The primary purpose is to hold the hips in place so that the body doesn’t move forward when the rollers pass over the back and seat. They are basically meant to traction the hips for a deeper roller massage.

For some massage chairs, like the old Inada DreamWave and the Panasonic chairs, the hip air cells also dig into the ITB as a form of therapy. But, the hip air cells in most massage chairs are larger and more broad in their contact coverage, so they don’t really “dig” into the ITBs as much as the above-mentioned models do. They more or less serve the primary purpose of air cells, which, as mentioned previously, is to hold the hips in place for the roller massage.

If  you are looking for a massage chair that digs into the ITBs, for therapeutic benefit, you will be disappointed. There aren’t many models in the current market that provide the ITB massage.

Massage Chair ITB Hack

That’s where our customer, Rusty McKee, comes in. Rusty sent an email to me a couple of weeks ago with a tip that he figured out to massage his ITBs, using his massage chair. He used to own an Inada Dreamwave and he learned to love the ITB massage it gave him. When it was time to purchase a new chair, he found that the IRB air cells did not work the way they had in his old Inada model. His new chair had the hip air cells, but they were designed for holding the hips in place and not for ITB massage. Rusty is a runner and has had a need for ITB massage, but couldn’t get it from his new massage chair.

Reconciling his ITB massage experience with his old model with the air cells of his new model, he came up with a brilliant idea! What if could put a foam pad between the outside of each of his thighs and both hip air cells? What if the pressure from the hip air cells pushed the foam rollers against his ITBs? He ordered a long foam roll online to test it. I’ll let him tell us what he did…

I’m so excited to tell you and show you how…I solved and made the IT band pressure 10x… why?… because I can easily adjust and put even more pressure specifically where I want it.  Check this out:

-Ordered this 3-3/4” foam tube
-Cut it to around 6” long
-Cut it down the center

Then you can see in the pictures, I can make it as less intense with flat side against leg or put only the round part vertical again my leg and it can be perfectly slightly painful with great results.

ITB massage






Carefully notice how each picture is different and pushes against the IT band slightly different.  I love how I store it, because don’t fumble around trying to find it and it’s visually out of the way.

I also want to say that for the last dozens years with my Dreamwave, I always thought you just sit, push a button and relax.  Well, that’s true for most.  But… for sports folks and runners like me and others with life’s stress, I’ve learned to not only use all the features for adjustment, but just move my back around to get the nodules exactly where I feel I need them.  Wish I had recognized how broader the use of the chair can be. 

So, there you have! What a great idea. Rusty sent us one of the 6″ rolls and we have it at our AZ showroom to demonstrate on customers who are interested in a better ITB massage. You’d be surprised how common this ITB problem is.

I hope you found this tip helpful. I sure did!

Thanks, Rusty.

Dr. Alan Weidner


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