d
c
Subscribe to our free newsletter and get more great content like this delivered to your inbox.
  • http://twitter.com/NathanFreeburg Nathan Freeburg

    Are there certain ways you can use a foam roller that’s not so bad, or do you suggest skipping them altogether?

    • Ty Crabtree, D.C.

      I personally do not recommend the use of foam rollers but if you choose to use one it is important to do it in a way that does not cause pain. Pain is the enemy when using a foam roller. The old adage, “no pain, no gain” does not apply here.

      Once the pain receptors are firing within a tissue, the mechanoreceptors (the receptors that control tissue tension) are inhibited or shut off in order to reduce damage to the area.

      Once the mechanoreceptors shut off, the tension of the tissue you are targeting will not be positively effected and most likely adhesions will form within the tissues due to the increase in inflammation. And here begins the cycle of chronic issues.

  • http://twitter.com/lynnkale lynn kale

    Last summer I had IT band pain in my right leg that would not go away with rest, stretching, etc. I tried foam rolling and it was almost like magic! The immediate pain went away after a run, and after 2 uses about a week apart, my knee felt normal again.

    Now I use the foam roller on most of my leg muscles once every few weeks and the issue has not reoccurred. I also haven’t had any strained or pulled muscles in that time.

    I think one important thing about foam rolling, like everything else, is that you mustn’t overdo it. If you’re foam rolling every day, you aren’t giving your body time to recover, but as an occasional treatment, it works great.

    • Ty Crabtree, D.C.

      I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to continue your training with the use of a foam roller! Sounds like you found something that works well for you and that you are using it within reason! I like that you spread out your use. And you are correct in the fact that your body needs time to recover between uses.

      The one word of caution I will offer is the potential long term effects of your foam roller use. When I say long term, I’m talking years. The adhesive tissue doesn’t always develop quickly, especially when it is due to microtrauma like using a foam roller.

      If someone were to lightly poke you in the shoulder once or twice it probably wouldn’t bother you. But if someone were to lightly poke you repeatedly in the same spot thousands of times, you might start to notice! That is a very simplified explanation but I think it helps with the point that I’m trying to make.

      As long as pain is absent when you use your foam roller, I say keep it up! Good luck with your training!

      • Robbie

        What research can you support your comments with?

        • Ty Crabtree, D.C.

          None. That’s the honest answer. But, the research in the other direction is sparse and limited.

          I’m not against the idea that foam rolling could possibly be helpful but it’s one of those cases that I want to see the research support it first because I can think of a few basic physiologic and neurologic mechanisms that could explain the detrimental effects of foam rolling.

          Dr. Greg Lehman has a great critique of the foam rolling research here: http://www.thebodymechanic.ca/2012/05/15/critique-of-foam-rolling-research/

  • Ross Van Natta

    As a Physical Therapist, I have a number of patients come through our office with IT Band injuries. I have seen the foam roller be successful with patients at times, but to echo the other comments, it is usually better when used sparingly. I have found a combination of strengthening the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and hamstrings, along with soft-tissue work like Graston or Gua Sha to be the most effective.

    • Ty Crabtree, D.C.

      Completely agree with you Ross! Muscle imbalances as well as postural discrepancies are always important to consider!

  • Theresa Kavouras

    I just began using one this weekend for my calves, which halfway though my marathon training have gotten very tight. After the first attempt, my calves were even more sore the following day. I didn’t foam roll yesterday, and I wonder if just general stretching and keeping them loose with treadmill walks is good enough for this week.

    • Ty Crabtree, D.C.

      Those can be some good alternative options. It will always depend on what your symptoms are and what the issue is.

      Soft tissue treatments can help you maintain your mileage without having to take time off from your training. I’d recommend reading my previous post “Utilize The Treatment Options the Pros Use” or “Chiropractors Are More Than Just Back Doctors”.

  • Lisa Fenske

    I ran Grandma’s half on Saturday. After the race I used a hand-held roller to get a knot out in my leg. I woke up the next morning with the knot still there and a bruise over it. I found this surprising and unexpected.
    Thanks for the well-written post on the topic!

    • frenat

      That’s stinks! Does it hurt more now?

      Nathan

    • Ty Crabtree, D.C.

      That’s too bad Lisa! Unfortunately, I hear a lot of similar stories.

      If it doesn’t calm down within the next couple of days, I’d recommend trying Active Release Technique or Graston Technique.

      If you need help finding a provider near you, feel free to email me and I will find someone for you!

  • Noocrat

    Does the same logic apply to using the stick?

    • Ty Crabtree, D.C.

      When talking about the IT band, yes.

      It can be helpful in other areas of the body since the stick only allows you to apply a small amount of pressure when compared to foam rolling. I would still only use it in a pinch.

  • John Dawson

    Love muscle rollers feels great on my calves! I prefer a handheld muscle roller anyone else?

    http://zzathletics.com/Golf-Ball-Muscle-Roller-20-GBMR1.htm

  • http://footsolutions.com/ FootSolutions

    Valuable advise indeed! I tried foam rolling and it was terribly painful yet amazing at the same time. I feel it’s not for everyone, one should consult their physician before beginning any exercise program.
    http://www.footsolutions.com/store/alexandria-arlington/foot-problems