January was back pain month for my family and friends! My husband had upper back pain after running and several of my friends and I had back pain, from shoveling snow . We were all starting to feel our age. Then I bumped into a friend at the YMCA, who was to change all that. She told me about using a foam roller for back pain and showed me a few exercises, which gave me almost instant relief. Back home I began researching and found that the foam roller, for “myofascial release”, is the latest big thing in sports medicine, and the research is compelling.
The benefits a foam roller
According to the research myofascial release, with a foam roller may help with:
- Prevention of soft tissue injuries in athletes and fitness fans
- Stretching and relaxing muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia (connective tissue just below the skin) and other soft tissue
- Breaking down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue
- Improving blood flow and the health of blood vessels
- Enhancing lymphatic circulation,
- Increasing range of movement in a muscle group
- Speeding recovery from “IT band syndrome”, shin splints and other soft tissue injuries
- Relieving muscle knots or “trigger points”: you know how good that feels!
How to use a foam roller
As with any exercise or treatment, consult your doctor or physical therapist before using a foam roller.
Exercise or warm up your muscles. Place the foam roller on an exercise mat and rest on it. Roll back and forth across each area 10 – 15 times. Focus a little longer on any tender spot.
Areas to “roll”:
- Back and sides: from shoulders to buttocks
- Hip area and legs: buttocks, calf, thigh and soft area of the shin
Avoid: bony areas, bruised skin and neck
For more information and some specific exercises here’s a great article to get you started: www.sportsmedicine.about.com/od/flexibilityandstretching/ss/FoamRoller.htm. Plus, there are some great videos by physical therapists on on Youtube.
The foam roller is a great tool for people with minor soft tissue injuries and aches and pains, and it only takes a few minutes, once or twice a day. Mine cost only $25 and I have used it daily since then: no more knotted back for me!
For more information on the latest trends in health follow my blog, http://blog.ctnews.com/drrhodes/
That friend I mentioned: Judith Panzano! THANKS!
Sullivan KM. Roller-massager application to the hamstrings increases sit-and-reach range of motion within five to ten seconds without performance impairments. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Jun;8(3):228-36.Ferguson, Lucy Whyte. “Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis: The Tethered Spine.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2013)
Okamoto, Takanobu, Mitsuhiko Masuhara, and Komei Ikuta. “Acute Effects of Self-Myofascial Release Using a Foam Roller on Arterial Function.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 28.1 (2014): 69-73.
Macdonald, Graham Z., Michael D.h. Penney, Michelle E. Mullaley, Amanda L. Cuconato, Corey D.j. Drake, David G. Behm, and Duane C. Button. “An Acute Bout of Self-Myofascial Release Increases Range of Motion Without a Subsequent Decrease in Muscle Activation or Force.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27.3 (2013): 812-21.
“Why a Foam Roller Works.” LIVESTRONG.COM. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.