Running and biking are excellent forms of exercise, but for many of us, there are consequenses. Shin splints, IT band syndrome, plantar fasceatis are just some of the overuse injuries that can be caused by these activities. If you sit at a desk all day, have knee pain, are training for a big race, or all three, you need to read this post! If you know someone with these issues, please share it! 🙂
There are some basic ways to avoid these issues, like:
- getting the right shoes
- using a foam roller
- strengthening the core musculature
The shoes–well, you need to go to a store for that. There are several stores around the country that specialize in running–you can go there for walking and general fitness too.
If you are familiar with it, use it! The foam roller stimulates blood flow in the muscles and is a must do for warm ups, but it can be used therapeutically too. It works on the facsea that surrounds muscle fibers, and on the muscle itself.
It is good for:
- tight muscles
- knee pain (*see below)
- shoulder restriction
- hip aches and pains *
- performing core exercises
*When dealing with joint pain, its important to identify what is causing the pain. Of course, the foam roller cannot magically cure a torn meniscus, or a degenerating hip. And, its important to get these things checked out by a physician to determine if it is caused by something serious.
However, I have met many people who have knee pain, and/or joint restriction who had MRI’s and there was nothing wrong, but they still had the pain.
When the quadriceps (the front thigh muscles) tighten up they can pull on the moving parts of the knees and tighten the joint, causing friction. They can also cause microtearing in the connective tissue around the joint, creating inflammation and more tightness. The foam roller alleviates the tight muscles by putting pressure on a “trigger point” (an area of tenderness when pushed upon).
I have had clients who had a great deal of knee pain, used the foam roller, and literally the pain was gone. Used on a regular basis, BEFORE exercise, this tool can save you from pain, chronic inflammation, and unneeded testing and even surgery.
Foam rollers come in different types of styrofoam. There are white ones, black ones, and blue ones.
The white, open cell styrofoam rollers, are softer and for people who experience extreme pain when rolling, but these tend to break down or compress pretty quickly.
The next level is a bit harder, made out of a blue. They claim to be soft but maintain their shape (they are also more expensive).
And then there are the black ones (pic above) which are very firm. This level of foam roller is good for those who want something that is going to last a long time, and need that firmer pressure.
There are different kinds of foam rollers too. Some get really fancy with knobby things to create more of a massage experience, and some even vibrate. I say keep it simple.
You can purchase foam rollers at many places, like Target or Dicks. You can also click here are order one from where I get mine.
One BIG mistake that people make when using a foam roller is this:
They roll, roll, roll on the tender area. Even though this is called a foam roller, you don’t roll all over it. You roll to find the tender spot, and then STOP AND HOLD that spot. You will feel the tender spot go away (or at least lessen). The first time you ever do it is the worst. After about 2 or 3 times it is better.
Use the foam roller to prevent injury, to treat injury or to extend the effects of a massage. Professional athletes all over the world use the foam roller–make it part of your warm up!
If you live in Cincinnati and want an advanced course on injury prevention, including the foam roller, we will be conducting an Injury Prevention workshop on March 18th at 7:30 pm at Venus Fitness, 9401 Montgomery Road in downtown Montgomery. Click here to register!!