Foam Roller: Necessary Evil?


Foam Rollers are cylindrical devices typically made of Polyethylene foam and designed to free you of chromic pain. Sounds delightful, no? Well it is, unless you actually have sore muscles, in which case it starts to feel like a torture device. I decided to write this piece as I was rolling out my IT Bands (and hips, and lats, etc.) the day after an 8 mile run. If you roll, you know that when it starts to hurt in a certain spot, you are supposed to stop there. Yes, so it can hurt for longer. But then when it’s over you feel better!

 Foam rollers offer many of the same benefits as sports massage but at a one time price of around $15-$40, they are a whole lot cheaper. Basically you use your own body weight to stretch muscles and tendons, break up trigger points, increase blood flow and improve circulation. It offers a myofascial release which can help alleviate pain, soreness and improve flexibility and range of motion.

 If you see a massage therapist, physical therapist or chiropractor they will typically show you techniques to use with a foam roller. You can Google other styles to roll various body parts across it. There are, of course, YouTube videos demonstating how to roll. 

If you are looking for a more long term solution with foam rollers, Dr. Mark Cheng uses them in his Tai Cheng videos. Tai Cheng™ is a natural solution designed to help rid you of aches and pains. It combines 21st-century fitness science with the centuries-old techniques of Tai Chi to help reduce joint and muscle pain through better muscle control. It’s an excellent program for injured athletes, people who haven’t exercised in a while, and older adults…or just a way to relax.  And there’s a whole lot of rolling going on! You can find the DVDs, as well as a super cool Rumble Roller, at my link:

If you are new to exercise, pick up a foam roller. Check amazon or your local sporting goods store. Soon, it will just be how you roll!


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