Practical Bodywork Blog

Foam Roller Therapy: Why It’s Awesome

Practical Bodywork is thrilled to bring you this guest post by Jesse James Retherford of TAO-Fit.com.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a huge advocate of foam roller therapy, and for a good reason: it works. In my personal and professional life I have found that foam roller therapy is an incredibly valuable practice. It is an absolutely vital component of a well designed holistic fitness and health routine.

What is Foam Roller Therapy?

Foam roller therapy is simply one of the best methods available to treat and prevent injury. If you don’t own or spend any time using a foam roller (the main tool used in foam roller therapy), then get one. Start.  A foam roller is, in my opinion, one the best investments of time and money you can make when it comes to your long term health and fitness.

Foam roller therapy is the use of a foam roller for self massage. There are many different kinds of self massage tools out on the market.  Finding the right one can be a confusing and expensive process. I prefer to keep my tools super simple, inexpensive, and effective.  The self massage tools that I most often recommend and use are a Trigger Point Grid foam roller, lacrosse ball, golf ball, and a softball.

Foam roller therapy helps break down dysfunctional tissue caused by poor movement patterns, i.e. poor form.  It increases joint function, mobility, and range of motion. It reduces acute pain, speeds up recovery and healing, and it reduces injury.

Foam roller therapy gives you access to the powerful healing of deep tissue fascial massage, all at a very low price, and at any time of day, every day. Integrating foam roller therapy into your weekly routine will help you not only prevent pain and injury, but treat and quickly recover from an injury. It speeds up the recovery process between workouts and reduces the total amount of time you spend lame from an injury.  Using a foam roller after a hard workout is like injecting pure recovery directly into your tissue.  It allows you to have a challenging workout routine, while at the same time, minimizes the pain and injury cycle.

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Rolling your back

Want to read something that goes into a bit more detail about how foam roller therapy works? Want to learn how to do it? Read this.

When is the best time for Foam Roller Therapy?

Just about anytime is a great time for foam roller therapy. You can do it in the morning. You can do it in the evening. It’s great before a workout. It’s great after a workout. An important time for foam roller therapy is when you hurt. The best time for foam roller therapy is when you don’t hurt, because it really does help prevent you from hurting in the first place.

This is what this looks like for my clients: I often have a client who comes in for a workout session complaining about some minor pain in their knee, hip, back, or shoulder. These can be very frustrating sessions for the client. Whatever kick-butt workout I had planned gets ditched, because I don’t teach or train clients to exercise through the pain. If your knee hurts, then you can’t lunge or squat. If your shoulder hurts, then you can’t push or pull. The rule is: if it hurts to do… don’t do.

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Rolling your quads: scrumptious!

What does a workout look like if we can’t work out?

These are actually my favorite sessions to teach! I love it when someone shows up in pain.  Pain time is learning time.  These sessions are an opportunity to show them where their pain is coming from.  I can teach them how to treat and heal themselves. Instead of going through their regular workout, I pull out the foam roller and show them what and how to work on themselves specific to what they are feeling. I show them where the pain pattern is originating and how to help break it down.

Then we get them back on their feet and have them do the same exercise that was causing the pain. Nine times out of ten, they can perform the exercise with no pain. In the rare case that the pain doesn’t go away, I pull out the massage table and do deep tissue fascial massage. I follow up with corrective exercises to train their body to stabilize and move without pain. These are the most valuable sessions I offer. Teaching people how to move efficiently without pain. And more importantly, empowering them with knowledge, understanding, and tools in which they can integrate into their personal routine.

Foam roller therapy is a powerful tool in your fitness, health, and wellness arsenal. With consistent practice you can perform roughly 80% of the massage work that I do… on yourself. Eighty percent! That is powerful stuff. It means feeling better, better movement, getting more out of your workouts, improved posture, less time in pain, less time on the massage table, and you get more out of a professional massage since you are doing so much of the work on your own. When combined with a holistic training program, the benefits of foam roller therapy is well worth the effort.

This is from an email I recently received:
“I am told by 2 surgeons that I need hip surgery due to bone spur on right hip. Also have tight IT band. I am trying to avoid surgery and be pain free… Since I stumbled onto your website and started to do the foam rolling on all body parts I am pain free… Last surgeon said I have a tight IT band. Physio was targeting just the IT band and after reading what people have posted about rolling everything it made sense.  I have been doing physiotherapy for close to a year and this is the first time that I have found relief.”

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Rolling your IT band: not so much!

 

Interested in learning more? Check these out:
Foam Roller Therapy For Beginners
How To Treat and Prevent Injuries
Foam Rolling The IT Band
A Common Cause Of Sciatic Pain – Self Treatment
Self Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affiliate for Trigger Point Therapy. This means that if you purchase one of their products after clicking one of these links, I will get a small commission. That said, the only reason I am an affiliate for their products, primarily The Grid, is because I believe in it 100%.

Jesse James Retherford is a coach and therapist in Austin, TX. He helps his clients heal from the dysfunction of chronic pain and injury, recover and rebuild pain free posture and function, and propels them into the best condition of their lives so they can thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in all aspects of their career and life.  Find out more and sign up for his blog over at www.TAO-Fit.com

2 Comments

  1. Empty Legs
    June 16, 2013

    I’m a great fan of using my roller before AND after gardening. I used to get terrible back pain in the past, and although it’s not completely gone, it’s so much better than it was.