Getting into the habit of Foam Rolling

January 14, 2009

For those of you who may not be so familiar with foam rolling, its a recovery method that is often called a “poor man’s massage”. Basically it helps with tissue quality (getting to or maintaining GOOD quality).

Anyways I picked one up went I came back to school back in September, and its essentially been a 20 buck dust collector since then. For whatever reason though the past few mornings after I’ve gotten out of bed, I’ve hopped on it for several minutes to hit any tender areas.

So why’s tissue quality such a big area of focus when it comes to recovering from workouts??

Around each of your muscles is a type of connective tissue called fascia. Think of your muscles being wrapped in plastic wrap. Anyways as a result of training and muscle activity during prolonged postures (sitting) it can become tight and in turn restrict the amount of movement a muscle is capable of producing. Not to mention, it can produce pain in a related part. An example of this is adductor magnus tightness (the large muscle on the inside part of the thigh) causing medial knee pain.

Anyways I’ve heard a clever little saying repeated by numerous coaches and trainers: Take of your soft tissue and your soft tissue will take care of you.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to get done, but consistency of efforts is extremely important! You will end up feeling better (especially after a very strenous workout) and moving better as a result.

Its -20 up here today…WooHoo, nice and warm!!!!!!!!!! (Note: sarcasm)

CB

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6 Responses to “Getting into the habit of Foam Rolling”


  1. We’re close, -18 but with wind chill it’s -40. Ugh. And I hate when people say I should move if I don’t like it. Like they really really like -40 weather. Yeah right.

    I probably would have done the same and done mostly performance testing. Though I do agree with your instructor on the bodyfat part. I’d not say that bodyfat % determines the ability of an athlete for any sport really.

    Do you feel the foam rollers work well? I’ve never tried them. Though I was trained in soft tissue massage and myofacia release techniques I’ve never really thought the MFR techniques were really beneficial. But then I’ve never had them done to me :). I like the deep tissue sweedish massage. Wish I knew someone in training right now. I did consider getting one of those rollers but they didn’t have them at Walmart, Target, Dicks, or the other stores I frequent. I’m thinking I’ll try the Home Depot and Fleet Farm to see if they’d have something like that somewhere.

  2. Chris Brown Says:

    I think the foam rollers work well if done frequently enough. If someone does it once a month, its obviously not going to help much if theyre super tight. The other thing is its really more of a very practical plan B since its cheaper and you can do it at home whenever you have free time compared to seeing a masseuse.

    I really like rolling my lower body, since my adductors get super tight, so it keeps the knee pain away. Once you get into a habit of doing it, you really notice how much easier it gets (you wont be making weird faces from the pain so much).

    Why didn’t you like the self-massage/MFR stuff they taught you??


  3. Not for self, for my patients :). I really don’t enjoy giving massages. And the myofacia release MFR, seemed to light of a touch to do anything. I thought it was a waste of time. Maybe it’s not, but that’s just what I thought when learning it. Now I’m not so sure. I’ve used a tennis ball to press against tight or painful spots and I’m thinking the foam roller would be similar which I think would probably help. I’m just so on the fence!

    The one area I think massage should be used more is for chronic pain rather than a ton of meds though. Otherwise, maybe I’m just to lazy ;).

    At home, we have a massage chair (just got it today). I tried it out repeatedly and love it already. It doesn’t do the side of the butt along the glut med where I tend to hold tightness unfortunately.

  4. Chris Brown Says:

    You’re right about the foam roller being similar to a tennis ball…the difference between the two just comes more from how each is beneficial. Rolling large muscles with a tennis ball can be difficult since the surface area of the ball is so small.

    You mentioned that you think the SMR/MFR stuff can feel a little light. I think that depends on the client/patient. Someone who’s never had a massage or foam rolled but sits at a desk all day probably doesn’t need a lot of pressure at first on their hip flexors, so a foam roller can be adequate. Someone who has been foam rolling on a regular basis for awhile will eventually need to either use a more dense object or go in for some manual work.

    Anyways the massage chair sounds awesome! Just an idea…what if you put a tennis ball on your glute med while the chair was on, would that work??


  5. I was thinking about that myself with the tennis ball. I was using some cones from work today while driving. Not the same. I need to keep a tennis ball with me but my cat steals them. She thinks she’s a puppy and likes to play with them. She even manages to get them upstairs. Strange cat.

    The massage chair after two days is already the main chair in our home. I love it! I did break down and get a foam roller today. I’ll let you know my thoughts after I try it for a week.

  6. Chris Brown Says:

    Ya weird cat :P…maybe you’ll have to resort to hiding them so that your cat cant get them.

    Have fun rolling on the foam!


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