Foam rollers have become a staple in many physical therapy clinics and gyms. If you have never seen one before, it is a 3 ft x 6-inch foam cylinder that can be used for stretching and massaging muscles during the recovery process as well as pre and post-workout. While it is a simple looking tool, there are many ways to use it. Many people swear by the benefits of foam rolling stating that it helps them feel more limber and reduce pain. These claims certainly sound good, but what does rolling out your muscles actually do and could it be a beneficial tool for you?
“Go get your arm warmed up!” This is a phrase I hear all the time for overhead athlete sports, whether it’s the relief pitcher in baseball, the center fielder in softball, the ACE server in volleyball, or the star QB. This is solid advice; it’s never a good idea to go into aggressive overhead activity without a proper warm-up, but what makes a good warm-up? That can be a very loaded question! Fortunately, by understanding the anatomy of the shoulder and the requirement by its muscles to work optimally overhead, it can be simple to get an athlete ready for action and, more importantly, lower their risk for injury.
Foam rollers are one of the most widely used tools in the fitness industry. Everywhere you look, you seem to see either someone using one or touting the benefits of one of them, but does the evidence support the use of these therapeutic devices? A casual look into the research shows some positive benefits of using a foam roller, and I will give a few of my favorite ways to use one for your next workout.
For January’s last stretch of the week, we will be performing a Shin Massage with a Foam Roller. This is also an abdominal exercise, so you will get two for one with this stretch!
Thanksgiving week’s stretch of the week is called the Figure 4 Foam Rolling stretch, which is a hip stretch that also massages the piriformis and gluteal muscles along the backside of the hip. Plus, you may also feel a stretch through the chest.
For the second week of November we will be performing an Arm Sweeps stretch on the foam roller. It provides a stretch through the arms and pectoral muscles (chest).
This stretch requires a foam roller to perform. If you have difficulty getting up and down from the floor, or any shoulder injuries, please skip this week’s stretch.