Friday, November 16, 2012

Foam Roller!

I've heard one or two people mention using a foam roller so I thought I'd give it a try. You can do all sorts of exercises using a roller, but most people use them for self-massage particularly if they have what they perceive to be a tight ITB (Iiliotibial band).

For those who don't know, your ITB runs from your hip to your knee down the outside of you thigh. It's a band of connective tissue that contrary to popular belief doesn't stretch. What it does seem to do is get stuck to the muscles and other soft tissue around it. If you get pain in the outside of your knee when you run, then you might have an issue with your ITB.

Anyway, I got hold of a roller and tried it out earlier this week. Lying over the roller with my outer thigh on the roller I began to roll up and down along the length of of my thigh. Some areas were rather painful, and if you're not ready for it, it can be really painful. Moving slowly and carefully is the key to using a roller effectively. Knowing something about massage and anatomy probably helps to understand what you are doing and what it should feel like. You can reduce the pressure by controlling the amount of body-weight that goes through the roller, but it's not easy. Rollers come is different densities, so if you find the one you first try too hard, a less dense model might be better.

I experimented with accessing the side, front, and back of my thigh, and it worked quite well. I also had a go at my notoriously tight peroneals (outside of the calf).

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of the foam roller for self-massage, I've only had a couple of goes with it, but it may prove to be a useful tool to have to hand. There are lots of ways you can use the roller for exercise too, so it's not just a instrument of self administered pain!

1 comment:

George said...

Great post Richard.

Less dense foam rollers are definitely a good idea for those new to the technique as it can be a little painful the first few times! If you're in the gym which has foam rollers the least dense will be the white one.

For more info on how foam rollers are colour coded according to density, see this page.