Thursday, September 11, 2014

Foam Rolling: It Hurts So Good

Within the past few years, foam rolling has begun to increase in popularity.  It seems as if every fitness club that you set foot in has multiple foam rollers, from long ones to short ones to the rollers with those weird bumps on them.  How are you supposed to know which one to use? And once youve selected your roller, how do you even use it? 


Before we go into the specifics about foam rolling, its important to understand why foam rolling is beneficial for runners or any active person.  Its all about the adhesions. 

Muscle fibers are intended to be parallel fibers bundled together.  In a normal state, these fibers glide across each other, resulting in muscular movement.  However, when the body overuses certain muscles, small tears begin to accumulate in the muscle.  This is also known as micro trauma.  Your body is always searching for ways to be stable, so it lays down irregular connective tissue where the micro tears are.  The irregular connective tissue, called adhesions, help support the injured muscle quickly but it also comes with its own set of problems.  Adhesions can shorten and weaken the muscle, along with cause pain and restricted range of motion.  An example of this might be those knots in your shoulder that you feel after a long day of computer work.  Adhesions can occur all over your body, especially in the glutes, IT Band and calves for our runners out there!

The good news is that you can break down these adhesions and your body can reabsorb the scar tissue.  But I have to warn you: Stripping down those adhesions can be uncomfortable.  Thats where foam rolling comes into play; the more efficient you are at it, the sooner you can get back to running pain-free.

You might be wondering how someone could possibly need instructions on foam rolling.  But you would be surprised at the amount of people I see at our gym that are actually doing more harm than good with their rolling.  Dont be that person.

Here are some tips for proper foam rolling:

-Apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle/muscle group using the roller and your bodyweight.

- Roll SLOW (about 1 inch per second).  When you find a tender spot, pause for a few seconds and try to relax.  You should feel the muscle release after about 30 seconds.

-Pain isnt always a good indicator.  If a certain area is too tender or doesnt feel as if it is releasing, then roll the areas around it.

 For example: The IT Band should be indirectly treated by rolling the outside of the quads and hamstrings.

- Do not spend more than a minute on each tender spot.  This is not a pain tolerance contest.

- Do not roll on bones or joints.

- Lastly, avoid rolling your lower back or neck.  It can cause your spinal muscles to spasm and then youll have to come see me.

Other than that, foam rolling is a pretty simple concept.  Pick a muscle group, roll it, then move onto the next group.  Be sure to drink plenty of water after, too. 

If youre wondering which foam roller to purchase, just try them all! If youre new to it, then pick a softer one and progress to a denser foam.  If youre looking for more of a massagerather than breaking down adhesions, then go ahead with the rumble rollers. 

If youre local to Sun Prairie, we do sell two types of foam rollers at Noble Choice Chiropractic and we dont mind if you try them out here.  If youre looking for some foam rolling instruction, we can help you out with that too.

Have fun rolling! 

Written by:  Dr. Steph Pinnow of Noble Choice Chiropractic
2410 Montana Ave
Sun Prairie, WI 53590


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