Okay, okay. I know my clients, friends and loved ones are probably pretty sick of hearing me sing the praises of foam rollers. What the heck IS a foam roller you say? And why/how do they help? Let me try to chip away at all your questions and misconceptions.
No-they are not a cure-all for all your muscular aches and pains. No-they wont help decrease cellulite. No-they cannot combat varicose veins or spider veins. No-they are not as good as getting a session with a massage therapist. That being said though, they CAN be a huge help for those who have chronic "tightness" issues, standing on their feet all day issues, "no time to get a massage" issues, people who "like feeling good on a regular basis" issues and finally those who "like knowing how to help themselves feel better" issues. Does that clear that up? Let me continue....
Now there is no substitute for getting a great massage therapist to work out your aches, pains and injuries. But the foam roller can help space out those visits to a manageable time frame for both you and your wallet. Foam rollers perform a type of self-massage that can be compared with myofascial release. Using your body weight and gravity, foam rollers "stretch" the fascia out and can help it become more pliable and "un-stick" it to itself and the underlying tissues (muscle). This gain of movement between the layers of tissue can help improve tightness, range of motion and gain some flexibility. Two important factors in using a foam roller best are breath and taking time/slowing down while on the roller. It is going hurt when you use the roller on a tight band of muscles. For sure. If there is no discomfort/pain, there's nothing going on here--keep moving! Once you get past the initial OMG of it, you will see that when you breathe thru the tightness, the pain can and will subside. I would say you should roll on each muscle group for at LEAST one minute--at least. A huge thing that makes the foam roller so awesome is that it can be a completely passive event. You just lie on it and it does most of the work for you--depending on the muscles you are trying to work. You can watch TV (if you are so inclined), listen to the radio, hold a conversation, play with your kids and pets (not to mention they will love that you are on the floor with them) and all sorts of other fun things while you roll. Did I mention breathing? You need to BREATH slowly and steadily while you are doing all this rolling. Hold your breath and you will see how quick your muscles can tighten up or simply refuse to let go of the tension--it wont be good, let me tell you from experience! You should roll the foam roller slowly while taking deep breaths and you will find that soon, you wont be feeling the pain much anymore. And it may not hurt so much when you go to reach over and pick up those groceries any more either.
You may not know right now what a foam roller is or what it feels like to use one, but soon after owning one you will wonder how you have gone this long without one! I promise! And if you don't, I am HAPPY to show you some techniques for stretches in the office. Just bring your new foam roller in with you and I will go through and help you get the most out of your new piece of equipment!