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. Many exercise programs are delayed and don’t really get off the ground because of injury. As I have written before regarding injury, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Stretching your muscles and warming up are important before each and every 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 should be 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 may be a clear indicator 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 should be doing this exercise.
Using a foam rolls 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 the IT band.
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!