I Just (Foam) Roll That Way…

Foam Rolls

Foam rolls can be an important part of your exercise program.

Foam Rolls and an Injury Prevention Workout

You finally started that exercise program.  You are feeling great, just waiting to see the results and…injury occurs.  Often, exercise programs don’t get off the ground because of injury.  With injury, an ounce of prevention  is worth a pound of cure.  Stretching your muscles and warming up are important before each exercise session.  However if your really want to get some bang for your buck,  get yourself a foam roll and start using it.  

This cost-effective, valuable tool belongs in every athletes or exercise enthusiast’s tool box.  It has many benefits including clearing lactic acid from recently exercised muscles; stretching tight muscles; removing trigger points; and  improving posture and bio-mechanics.

What does that all mean?  Lactic acid is a waste product of muscle metabolism.  It is lactic acid that causes the burn we feel when we exercise and will cause the  soreness we feel the day or so after your workout.  Using a foam roll can help remove the lactic acid from our muscle tissues.  Coupled with increased water intake to flush the released lactic acid away will help reduce the feeling of soreness we have.

It can also help release trigger points, or knots that we have in muscle group.  While stretching will certainly reduce injuries, no amount of stretching will eliminate knots in our muscles.

Using a Foam Roll For Your IT Band

The best time to use the foam roll is following exercise.  One of its most common uses is to stretch out the ITB (iliotibial band) which is a muscle that runs down the length of your thigh, starting at the lateral pelvic crest and ends just below the lateral knee.  It is a muscle that may become tight following activities such as running, walking, and jogging.  This muscle is the hip and knee stabilizer.
One of the difficulties with this muscle is that does not have to hurt in order for it to have a problem.   Hip, knee or thigh pain often are indicators that the muscle is tight and needs work.  One way to tell is to lay on your side on the floor with the foam roll beneath your down side thigh between your knee and your hip roll up and down on the foam roll and look for tender spots.  It is not unusual to experience excruciating pain when attempting to perform this exercise.  This is not normal, and is a clear indication that you need doing this exercise.
IT Band Stretch with Support

Using a foam roll with support to stretch your IT band.

To perform this exercise, position the foam roll between your thigh and the floor.  Support your upper body on your elbow.  Slowly move the roller from hip to knee, looking for sore spots.  Beginners can cross their opposite leg in front of them to relieve some of the pressure and make the exercise tolerable.  As you regularly perform this exercise you will find you will eliminate the need for the crossed leg, as demonstrated below.
Advanced stretch of IT band

Advanced stretch of the IT band using a foam roll.

Try this exercise at a minimum 3 times a week.  You will find over time that your initial pain will vanish upon rolling.  When this happens, I recommend that you move the roll from your hip to you knee, changing angle slightly at each pass.  Look for trigger points or knots in the muscle.  You will feel them.  Focus rolling on just this area to break up the knot.
Foam rollers can be found at chiropractor’s offices, sporting good stores, and stores that sell yoga equipment.  I recommend a 6 inch diameter by 24″-36″ long cylinder.  You will find this to be an excellent addition to your exercise routine and a great way to prevent and eliminate hip, knee or thigh pain!
Vijay Patel (77 Posts)

Dr. Vijay Patel earned his doctoral degree in Chiropractic from National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, Illinois. Dr. Patel is board certified in electrodiagnostics by the American Chiropractic Neurology Board. Dr. Patel has recently received training in Manipulation under Anesthsia (MUA). Constantly striving to give his patients the most up-to-date care possible, Dr. Patel attends many post-graduate seminars including such topics as neurology, research review, and sports performance enhancement. Dr. Patel has practiced medicine at Advanced Physical Medicine and Therapy in Mt. Prospect, Illinois since 1999. Dr. Patel currently serves as president of the Chicago chapter of the Illinois Chiropractic Society. He is also a member of both the National College of Chiropractic Alumni Association and the American Chiropractic Association. Dr. Patel is fluent in Gujarati. A lifelong runner, he has completed marathons and still competes in triathlons with his college mates.

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    1 comment

      • Aubrey@Uratex on May 21, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      Having been an Ultimate player for a long time now, I had just started using foam rollers after intense pickup games and tournaments. They really help ease the soreness because of continuous sprinting and lateral movements.

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