Whether you walk or watsu, bike or bend it like Beckham, chances are you have some tight muscles, adhesions or “knots” that put you in a bind. You probably suffer through them, attempt to stretch them out or visit a physical (or massage) therapist to get rid of them. Have you ever tried a foam roller?
Dubbed “the poor man’s massage,” a foam roller is an inexpensive tool that was once used exclusively by physical therapists for myofascial release.
According to Dr. Karl Knopf, “Some experts suggest that, if not addressed early, minor muscle imbalances (such as those tight, tender spots) can contribute to serious injuries or chronic dysfunction later on which may require expensive therapy.”
Foam rollers are a wonderful tool that can help prevent these issues as well as spice up your current workout with new ways to roll, balance, and exercise on them. I use them personally as well as on clients prior to exercise for warming up and improving range of motion. After exercising, I use them to help reduce tight spots and soreness in the muscle tissue.
No matter your age or physical fitness level, if you are sedentary, a weekend warrior, or elite athlete, you can benefit from using a foam roller. We should all be stretching and relaxing our muscles daily to keep them limber and injury-free to the best of our ability. It makes you feel so good afterwards too!
Try this simple exercise to see how much better you feel after using a roller: simply lie on your left side (like a forearm side plank) with your left leg on the roller and gently roll up and down your Iliotibial band. When you approach a tender spot, try to hold it for a few seconds until it softens. Do the best you can; if it’s too much, just continue to carefully roll up and down the leg, avoiding your knee and greater trochanter areas. Follow up with your left quadriceps and hamstrings next, then stand up and walk around. I guarantee you will feel a noticeable difference between your two legs afterwards. Your left leg will move with more ease and less stiffness than your right and will feel overall better compared to the other.
There are many uses for the foam roller and many styles to boot. You can use them for ironing out tight muscles, posture or balancing exercises, core stability, flexibility, range of motion, coordination, focus, body awareness and relaxation. There are many sizes, shapes, and colors to choose from. Decide what it is you want to do and go from there. I could launch into more specifics, but that would be an entirely different article! For now, research different brands and try before you buy! I’m here if you have any questions.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email [email protected] She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com or www.PinkIslandFitness.com and 239-333-5771.