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Foam Rolling. Who actually gets something out of ?

So I was thinking the other day I really should get back into some foam rolling, but when I stopped to ask myself why I couldn’t actually think of a good reason!

I “think” I used to feel better when I did it, but in fact I haven’t noticed any difference whatsoever since I stopped doing it (much like when I stopped taking creatine and stopped doing pre or post workout stretching). I don’t feel stiffer or tighter and I don’t feel riddled with knots and trigger points as a result either.

I thought I’d look up some research on the subject, but frankly there just isn’t that much.

http://bretcontreras.com/2012/05/a-critical-appraisal-of-the-foam-rolling-research-by-greg-lehman/

http://www.thebodymechanic.ca/2012/03/17/stop-foam-rolling-your-it-band-it-can-not-lengthen-and-it-is-not-tight/

http://strongerrunner.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/foam-rolling-research-so-far.html

So my question is how is it working out for you and do you have any tangible evidence that it’s doing you good (preferably not just I “feel” better, but “I used to tear my hamstring every week, but since I’ve been foam rolling”…etc) or is this the weightlifting equivalent of homeopathy and we’ve been suckered in?

Jeez!! all those agonising minutes I spent rolling my IT bands!

Good question. Like you, I think I feel better when I do it. Likewise, I think it makes me less prone to strains/pulls. But I can’t say for sure.

After this week’s deadlift-a-thon, my left knee was aching the next day. “Fuck sakes” I thinks to myself. But, just because, I decided to ride the foam roller for 10-15 minutes on my IT band and rectus femoris. Hurt like a bitch. And knee pain went away. Which is evidence, I suppose, that rolling can affect tissue tightness and quality.

Couple things I have found with rolling

  • in order for it to do any good, you need to actively relax the muscles…which is hard since the natural response to pain is to flex…otherwise you are rolling on the surface and not reaching deep enough. Of course, this relaxation makes it hurt more…yay.
  • most rolling is done too quickly. Once it really hurts is when you need to stop, hang out there for a while and oscillate on the trouble area. Which makes it hurt more…yay.


I have one of these at home and love it. Very effective on trigger points.
Rumble Roller

I liked foam rolling, than i did RC work, pull aparts, broomstick stretches, with a healthy RC/shoulder i do not use it now. Avoiding trigger points is a real time saver. I was planning on 10 massages and i forgot that option. I learned that neutral grip is my friend and how to work with long limbs. Books are for average, when tweaked/personalized many stuff gets safer.

Actually I’ve been told by my kinesiologist, that the areas I roll are much tender (glutes for example), than the ones I don’t roll (upper pect). Especially the trigger points in the glutes can give you a very sore back (and some nasty knee pain).

BUt maybe you’re one person who doesn’t get much out of stretching/ foam rolling.

[quote]Oldman Powers wrote:
I have one of these at home and love it. Very effective on trigger points.
Rumble Roller
[/quote]

I have a rumble roller, but I find my PVC pipe more effective. Maybe Im doing something wrong? How do you use your rumble roller?

tweet

have the rumble roller and a foam roller, like both, foam for over all better feeling, and for lower body stuff; rumble just hits those parts of my upper back way better. I can’t function w/o them

IMO foam rolling is better for rehab. People like to use it for prehab but unless it’s a small enough injury that you can’t see it really isn’t doing anything. If you need to foam roll then you either had an accident or possibly need to change your training.

It has worked for me for knee, foot, back, and achilles pain. I foam rolled and stretched the area still took days, possibly weeks for some. They were all nagging pains that just wouldn’t go away. I’m not sure if the weeks were necessary when I used them but at the least the initial treatment started some kind of healing.

One thing I’ve experienced is foam/pvc pipe/hard ball rolling of muscle tissue in conjunction with stretching works.

Stretching doesn’t work if your tissues are ultra tight or ultra fubar’d.

Has helped my knees, worked black magic on my “SI” (felt pain there but was caused by tight hip, especially piriformis) issue.

[quote]Avocadoshake wrote:
Actually I’ve been told by my kinesiologist, that the areas I roll are much tender (glutes for example), than the ones I don’t roll (upper pect). Especially the trigger points in the glutes can give you a very sore back (and some nasty knee pain).[/quote]

That’s interesting. A comment from someone else has far more credibilty as far as I’m concerned because I know how suggestible we can be. The placebo effect is a powerful thing. Unless of course you told him which bits you’d been foam rolling before he said it!

[quote]Avocadoshake wrote:
BUt maybe you’re one person who doesn’t get much out of stretching/ foam rolling.[/quote]

That’s the thing I don’t know one way or the other. I ‘think’ I feel better doing it, but I also ‘think’ I feel un-fitter when I haven’t done any cardio for a couple of weeks, when my vital statistics and risk of death are probably no different. It’s all in my head.

I mostly agree with airtruth. If you’re injured or rehabbing something specific then it might help, but the regular Lemming like use of it as a preventative measure could be a complete waste of training time and could be better spent doing a few more sets.

Also if pre workout stretching has been shown to limit the strength of muscle contraction one can produce, then surely foam rolling (which kneads and lengthens and reduces tension in the muscle etc) should be bad before a workout too? but lots seem to do it.

I noticed that when I didn’t foam roll, especially my hips, it would take longer to get into the ‘groove’ of training…ie the early sets in my warm up would feel a bit off and I’d have to spend more time warming up. When I do foam roll I feel much more comfortable, especially squatting, in the early sets and I can progress more quickly.

Maybe it depends…For example I constantly roll my hips because I do around quite a bit. Maybe by rolling I am just returning to ‘normal’…I don’t quite know.

Subjectively I feel better and have the feeling I am less sore after doing it. If nothing else it probably just helps flush the area with blood.

Love foam rolling!

It cracks my back marvelously (necessary due to a misspent youth)…
It also loosens up posterior chain. Hits hamstrings very well. This helps my injured knee not get pull out of alignment.

I love to foam roll and it helps out with my incessantly tight hips.

I would say that the time to get into rolling and mobility work isn’t when you feel hurt it’s before you do to keep yourself from getting beat up. I wish I had taken this stuff more seriously when I was younger and wasn’t a desk jockey.

james

[quote]FarmerBrett wrote:

That’s interesting. A comment from someone else has far more credibilty as far as I’m concerned because I know how suggestible we can be. The placebo effect is a powerful thing. Unless of course you told him which bits you’d been foam rolling before he said it!

[/quote]
I told her that I roll, or work on the trigger points. So the conclusion was, that the ones, that are more tense are the ones, that are hard to reach. Meh, didn’t verbatim the conversation for the record X)