I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I have been dealing with a knee/leg injury. It was caused initially from running but even though I have not run for the last 2 months (I am serious antsy) the pain has persisted and seems to be moving around my left leg and into my lower back.
I won’t get into much detail but let’s just say there’s been a lot of this…
So much icing and even more stretching. Though it does not seem to hurt while I am strength training the pain in my shins and back is certainly worse afterwards. Running is still painful as ever. As frustrating as it is I have been trying to scale back on my workouts and focus more on stretching and stabilizing exercises. I’m hoping to start doing more yoga too. I’ll keep you posted on how this is going.
Over the past two months the foam roller has seriously become my best friend. At first it was a love-hate relationship since it hurt so bad but now that i’ve been rolling consistently it’s become love-love! When I first injured myself everyone from friends, trainers and physiotherapists encouraged me to use the foam roller. I didn’t completely understand its benefits so I did some research into it and thought I would share my findings.
Foam rolling is kind of like giving yourself a deep tissue massage. Rolling helps relieve the tight knots, which build up in the fascia of the muscle tissue. These knots cannot be tackled by standard static stretching and so without foam rolling (or serious splurging on deep tissue massage) these knots remain and can cause all sorts of problems. Here are a few ways everyone can benefit from foam rolling:
Foam roll to prevent injuries. When we work our muscles through exercise or physical activity we are clearly putting all sorts of stress on them. This can lead to knots in our muscles where the fibers have started to adhere to one another. The foam roller will allow you break up these fibers and target areas with the most tension. Essentially you are breaking up the fascia (muscle knots) to prevent these tighter regions from becoming injury trigger points and also improve their movement and function.
Foam roll to improve flexibility
. Rolling over muscles can help release and lengthen the tissue thus improving flexibility. This is especially true of our hip flexors. Tight hip flexors can cause a host of problems including back, hamstring, shin and even foot pain. If any of these are problems for you I would definitely suggest rolling it out! Here is a guide
to foam rolling your hip flexors.
Foam roll to improve posture. Even if you aren’t an athlete you can still reap the benefits of foam rolling. Many people who have desk jobs or spend a lot of time hunched over at their computers experience all sorts of “hunchback” related pain. Foam roller to the rescue! Lie on the foam roller lengthwise to open up the invertebral spaces and increase nerve movement. This can really help relieve back and neck pain associated with poor posture.
Foam roll to help heal injuries. This is something that I can truly attest to.
Rolling can soothe sore muscles, increase circulation and loosen muscle spasms. It can also help release waste products and toxins that become trapped in the connective tissue as a result of exercise.
When should you foam roll? Right after warming up but before any static stretching. It will increase circulation and improve your body’s alignment allowing all joints to move correctly. You can also use it post-workout as well to correct any tight areas that were created during the workout.
What kind of foam roller should you use? It depends. Ultimately all foam rollers work the same but the denser the roller or the deeper the ridges on the roller, the more intense the stretch will be. If you are just starting out use a more compressible roller without ridges and work your way up. Usually white rollers are the softest, blue and green are medium intensity and black are the hardest.
Here’s the thing with foam rolling, it hurts. But there is a silver lining! Each time you roll it hurts less and less. It is definitely a habit to keep up with both because it gets easier and because there are just too many benefits not to. So next time you’re in the gym and see one of those funny-looking tubes lying around give it a try. If you need a little guidance check out this video for a full body foam rolling workout.
Is foam rolling something you consistently do? Have you ever used the foam roller to help heal an injury?
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