Foam Roll Your Pain Away

MARIA pontillo foam roller fitness

Foam rolling is one of my favorite treatment techniques that I use during my own personal fitness routines. I also use it with physical therapy patients. I love to use various foam roller techniques before and after workouts in an effort to reduce pain, improve mobility and prevent physical injury. If you ever experience pain or tension in your knees, hips, quads, calves or lower back, foam rolling is a great way to reduce discomfort and pain. You can choose to pay up to $100 for a professional massage every month or even complete a comprehensive treatment program from a licensed physical therapist, but if you are looking for a less expensive and less time consuming option, foam rolling is the best alternative!

For those of you who have not seen a foam roller, it is simply a cylindrical piece of foam that varies in colors, lengths and densities. The use of foam rollers is based on the concept of acupressure in which pressure is placed on specific tender areas of the body. Foam rollers are pretty affordable, usually ranging from $10 to $30 and can be found online or at your local Dick’s Sporting Goods store.  Foam rollers come in all sizes, even convenient portable ones that you can carry in your gym bag!

If you perform dynamic stretching on a regular basis, adding foam rolling sessions into your pre and post workout routines will improve your overall performance capabilities when it comes to specific exercises. The foam roller makes it easy to massage deep muscular tissues without the need of a licensed therapist or practitioner. You can eliminate tight kinks that typically cause soreness and pain using this technique. If you are very active and exercise frequently, you should be committing a few hours each week to breaking down your muscle tissue and fascia.  If you don’t, you may experience hardened tissue (i.e., scar tissue), which results in stiffness, immobility and decreased flexibility.  If you don’t dedicate the proper time and resources to treating your body, you could experience the buildup of adhesions in your muscles, which can be extremely painful and impair your performance when working out. When that occurs, you are at a higher risk for injury, so it’s always best to be proactive rather than reactive.

If you are an active runner, dancer, or cyclist, a complete total-body treatment of foam rolling of your calves and hamstrings, quadriceps, iliotibial band (IT band), piriformis and lower to upper back will enhance your mobility and improve your performance.  Many workout enthusiasts, including myself, sometimes suffer from shin splints, which are just micro tears of the tibialis anterior, which is the area where the lower leg muscle attaches to the tibia, also known as the shin bone.  Over the course of the past two years, I have personally seen a decrease in shin splint pain since I began foam rolling.  By performing 30 to 60 second foam rolling sessions to the area experiencing pain, you can alleviate pain and restore flexibility. Check out this YouTube video of great lower body foam rolling techniques that you can try at home or at the gym.

Although scientific studies are still under way to establish the benefits of the foam rolling method, I can testify first-hand that many of my physical therapy patients and personal fitness clients have incorporated foam rolling into their pre and post workout routines and have noticed significant reduction in physical pain. Foam rolling seems to work for so many fitness enthusiasts because it provides pressure on the body’s muscles, which can increase range of motion without interfering with muscle force. Before I get into my favorite foam rolling techniques, I would also like to advise you to combine foam rolling with static and dynamic stretching. These three methods combined over time will significantly reduce your chance of experiencing an injury, all while helping alleviate muscle pain.

Watch this YouTube video of me personally demonstrating each of my favorite foam rolling techniques! Make sure to follow me on Instagram, “Like” my Official Facebook Fan Page and follow me on Twitter!

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