Thursday, February 15, 2007

Foam roller...

It has taken me quite some time to come around to and get into the foam roller. I will discuss this in a bit of detail but first let me go into the what's and why's of the foam roller for me.

Basically the foam roller is a form of self myo-fascial release/trigger point release work. A caveat here - Deep tissue work by a skilled massage therapist is always preferred but the foam roller does allow for the individual to hit those "hot spots".

A 6" round by 1' or 3' section of "foam roll" (I recommend the PB Elite brand from ) and off you go - lay it on the floor and begin rolling sections of you body on it. You get to adjust the pressure and position and find trigger points and hot spots. Once you have found a trigger point roll the area between 20-30 times or until you notice the trigger has decreased or gone away. Arms, back, hips, legs, calves etc...if you are controlling the pressure well you can hit almost everywhere. Taking the edge of the end of the roller and "digging" into your hip flexor is one of my personal favorites.

This has made a difference for me recently - it has allowed me to release some triggers from my hips and calves that were beginning to cause some issues. Great stuff!

Why did it take me awhile to come around to the foam roller? Couple of reasons:
1. I am a bit slow on the uptake sometimes - sad but true ;)
2. You develop triggers for a reason - unless you address the reason - expect to keep rolling.
3. Screening first! Find the restricted on asymmetrical movement patterns - roll the areas involved - then apply corrective drills and viola - reduced or eliminated triggers.
4. I read too often of people falling into the trap of #2 - rolling and releasing without ever addressing the reason. This lead me to believe initially that the foam roller just wasn't that great of a tool. I mean if you keep releasing - re-triggering - releasing etc... There is something wrong with that - caveat here:
A pain stimulus or activity that will "spawn" triggers (yes - just like demon spawn!) - like an "injured" knee or shoulder or squatting ;) These things will reactivate triggers regardless of the technique used.
I am currently working with someone awaiting a medial knee compartment replacement (I started with him about 2 and a 1/2months ago) and I understand that until that pain stimulus is removed he will continue to shut off certain areas and need "rehab" type techniques. {A quick aside here - since beginning with me he is walking pain free without a crutch for short distances - pretty damn cool!}
So understand that while the foam roller is a great tool and can have very positive impact - understand what you are doing and why your are releasing and/or re-releasing certain areas.


Randy Hauer said...

What is a "trigger" and what is a "hot spot" for those of us who don't really know? (like me)
I've had ART work done and for me "nada" noticeable benefits...I have friends that swear by it.
Randy H.

Brett Jones said...

A trigger point is a neurological "hot spot" where an area of the muscle has become a "knot in the rope" - an ischemic area (area of low blood flow) where normal function is lost. I use the term "hot spot" because that is what it can feel like when you put pressure on the area - a tender - hot spot.
Did you receive ART for an "injury" or was it just to try it?
Foam roller or trigger point therapy is aimed at getting the neurological signal to change to that area and break the ischemic nature of the area - return normal blood flow and function.

Mark Reifkind said...

i do indeed beleive tha until the pain stimulus is removed things will shut off,compsensations will occur and rehab and corrective strategies willhave to come into play.
another reason to avoid mjor joint injuries,lol!

Randy Hauer said...

I had a hip problem at the time and I got worked on for that. He rattled on about tight piriformis etc. but it was really more of an acute issue that resulted from auditioning a WL shoe that had a heel a little too high compared to my usual shoes. It took almost a year to clear up though, but I stopped the ART long before that. I rolled around on a tennis ball for a while but it didn't help, really. The pain eventually just went away.

Brett Jones said...

If you irritated the joint lining of the hip (the synovium) you could easily have something that would not get better with ART - My general advice would be to get a foam roller and roll around a bit and see what you find.

About Me

My photo
Personal Trainer and Strength Enthusiast Email:

Blog Archive