Why Would You Want A Foam Roller?
Do you get really sore after your workouts and the pain seems to last for days?
Do you have super tight hamstring muscles, low back muscles, or shoulder and neck muscles?
Do you get headaches frequently?
Do you get charley horse cramps in your calf muscles frequently?
Do you hear, at every chiropractic appointment, that your adjustments aren’t holding?
Do you feel, with every massage treatment, that you feel as tight as the first time you worked with the therapist?
Well do I have a solution for you!
I want to share a simple tool called a Foam Roller. It is basically a solid piece of foam shaped into a cylinder that you can lay your body across and roll out muscles and other tissue for relief. It would be like taking one of those bakers rolling pins to roll out dough but you use your body weight and roll out your muscles.
They come in various sizes, shapes, and lengths depending on how you want to use them and what works best for you. These are the most common ones you’ll find at running stores or your physical therapists office. As you can see there are various lengths and even 1/2 rounds that lay flat and don’t roll.
The white foam is the softest. If you are tender and just starting out you might want to choose a white one. If you are also a bit on the weaker side, like you are unable to do a few knee push ups, you may also want to start with a 1/2 round so that it doesn’t slip out from under you.
The Blue foam is medium density. If you usually get a firmer massage treatment, you’d be fine to start with the blue.
The Black foam is the firmest. If you are a deep tissue thai massage lover you’ll love this density.
If you travel a lot you’ll want to get the 12X6″. Otherwise, the longer the better as you will be able to do more therapy options on the longer ones.
I also have one that I recommend for those with a lot of knots or sport injuries that need working out. It’s called The Rumble Roller. It also comes in blue and black, black being firmer.
Now You’ve Got One What Do You Do With It?
The way to use the foam roller varies greatly depending on what you want to do. The simple way to do it is to pick any sore muscles group, for example your shoulders and neck, and then position yourself on the roller and give yourself a massage using this great tool. I have a video that I put together to demonstrate a quick back, shoulder, and neck massage and how you can get deeply into the muscles to soften and relax them. This can quickly relieve headaches or tension from the day.
Another way to use this tool, is to support healing from injuries. If you have a strain (injury to muscle or tendon – tendons attach muscle to bone) or a sprain (injury to a ligament – connects bone to bone) using this tool can be very beneficial to healing and you should use it with the direction of your physical therapist. Joint injuries can benefit as well. They usually involve muscles that have tightened around the joint to support it. They need to be relaxed to support the full healing of the joint and prevent excessive wear and tear later on causing you to need a joint replacement. I have a video demonstrating using it on muscle attachments around the knee for knee injuries. Again, always follow the direction of your physical therapist and massage therapist so that you are doing the correct therapies for your specific injury. I am a massage therapist also so please feel free to email me with further questions and support.
You can also use it pre and post workout. If you have a dominant muscle group, you can roll out those muscles to fatigue them before you work out so that you give the less dominant muscle groups a chance to strengthen. This is important for muscle balance and for the long term health of all your joints and muscles later in life.
Post workout, using the foam roller to give yourself a relaxing massage is very nice and it moves your lymphatic system around flushing out the lactic acid faster so that you end up having less soreness. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to help this flushing action or you are just going to recirculate the toxins in your body.
An idea most people aren’t aware of is using foam rollers to support adjustments and releasing of knots between chiropractic and massage therapy visits. If you, for example, have a desk job or repetitive movement type job, the muscles corresponding with that performance of that job get overly used. This can cause muscles to shorten and tighten. If you are seeing a Chiropractor and/or massage therapist to support the loosening of muscle tension and pains you might be experiencing in your neck and back, you can use a foam roller to keep muscles from tightening up again causing more knots or pulling the adjustment out.
Doing a simple daily routine of massaging your calves, hamstrings, sacrum, low back, middle back, upper back, shoulders, and neck (in that order) can leave you feeling much more aligned and relaxed. It will help you become more aware of where you are holding tightness in your body and that can help you determine better ways to support your health and healing.
There are SO many options. Which is the best to buy?
Once you have graduated to the black foam roller (white to blue to black) and have a great routine down, you may want to expand and try out other types of foam rollers. The key is to know your limits. If you are still tender using the blue or black foam rollers then stick with those for awhile and don’t waste your money on some of the other fancier looking ones. Beware of the multi colored swirly ones because it’s hard to tell how dense they really are.
You can also check out my other blog on one of my favorite foam rollers called The Rumble Roller. However, it is not for the feint of heart!
If you would like to learn more or have questions please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Love your body!