Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Foam rolling: Believe the hype!

Whether you are a professional athlete, an amateur athlete, a weekend warrior or just sit at your desk all day, foam rolling should be part of your daily routine.

Foam rolling: Believe the hype!

Foam rolling has gained a lot of notoriety in the last few years but the big question is always: Is this a fad that I really should partake in? The simple answer is yes, you should.

Whether you are a professional athlete, an amateur athlete, a weekend warrior or just sit at your desk all day, foam rolling should be part of your daily routine. The truth is they can save you from pain that can take you out of everyday life.

What exactly is foam rolling? Foam rolling is massaging different parts of your body while lying on a foam roll. This is extremely beneficial for anyone to perform. It is safe and effective and can be done on any part of the body. During our daily routine muscles are stretched and shortened, sometimes for very long periods of time, like sitting at a computer or running a long distance and sometimes very forcefully like running down the steps or lifting a heavy weight. The actions performed by our muscles everyday takes a toll on them. Using our bodies every day, whether it be to exercise, carry kids around or do our jobs, takes a toll and muscles become tired and injured.

Our bodies are very smart and as we are injured our body automatically changes the way we use certain muscles in order to help the body heal. Using muscles differently allows for compensation. Compensation occurs without the person being aware of it. With this compensation the muscles begin to form painful spots, or trigger points. These painful spots are formed in the body every day, regardless of whether you work out intensely or just sit at a desk. This is where foam rolling becomes an integral part of everyday.

More coverage
Shoulder injuries: Don't wait til it's too late!
The six elements of physical fitness
Want a flattering figure? Don't forget your frame
Knee pain: What are your options?
A weakness epidemic in hip, trunk muscles

When you foam roll it allows these tender spots to be relaxed and will minimize the compensation that is performed. Compensation leads to pain if left untreated for awhile.

Do you have knee pain while running?  This could be compensation in the IT Band on the outside of the leg.

Have back pain when you swing a golf club? This could be caused by trigger points and compensation in the lower back.

Have pain in the mid back after sitting at a computer all day? This could be caused by trigger points and compensation through the upper back.

Many people report when they first start foam rolling that it is painful. This may be the case if you have a lot of tender points. Do it for a few minutes and then try for a few more the next day. If it is unbearable then you need to consult a medical professional. However, just because it is painful or uncomfortable does not mean to stop doing it, in fact it means that you should do it more. If you are having discomfort while on the foam roller it means that there is compensation occurring and that needs to be worked out.

Compensation and trigger points that are painful on the foam roller do not go away by themselves and do not go away by ignoring them, in fact they will get worse and they will bring more muscles into the compensatory pattern. This will cause more trigger points and more pain to the point where it will stop your favorite activity or make the work day intolerable.

When you search for foam rollers on the internet you will find many different ones. There are some softer foam rollers and then some higher density foam rollers. Which one is better? That depends on the person. Softer density foam rollers are going to be gentler so if you are having a lot of pain, then use the softer one. If you are able to roll on the softer one without pain or being uncomfortable then move to a higher density one.

How long should you do it? You should perform about 10 minutes per night, doing the legs and the upper back. If you have pain in a certain area then you should concentrate more on that area. But doing this about 10 minutes a day will help with the everyday compensation patterns that arise. Also trigger points

No matter what your activity level is, foam rolling is a habit that everyone should get into. It is a fad that is here to stay.  


Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.

About this blog
Robert Senior Sports Doc blog Editor
Alfred Atanda, Jr., M.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Robert Cabry, M.D. Drexel Sports Medicine, Team physician - U.S. Figure Skating, Assoc. Team Physician - Drexel
Brian Cammarota, MEd, ATC, CSCS, CES Symetrix Sports Performance, athletic trainer at OAA Orthopaedics
Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, OCS Co-owner of Conshohocken Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician for the Phillies & St. Joe's
Julie Coté, PT, MPT, OCS, COMT Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Peter F. DeLuca, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician - Eagles, Head Orthopedic Surgeon - Flyers
Joel H. Fish, Ph.D. Director - The Center For Sport Psychology, Sports Psychology Consultant - 76ers & Flyers
R. Robert Franks, D.O. Rothman Institute, Team Physician - USA Wrestling, Consultant - Philadelphia Phillies
Ashley B. Greenblatt, ACE-CPT Certified Personal Trainer at The Sporting Club at The Bellevue
Cassie Haynes, JD, MPH Co-Founder, Trap Door Athletics, CrossFit LI Certified
Eugene Hong, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP Team Physician - Drexel, Philadelphia University, Saint Joe’s, & U.S. National Women’s Lacrosse
Jim McCrossin, ATC Flyers and Phantoms
Kevin Miller Fitness Coach, Philadelphia Union
Heather Moore, PT, DPT, CKTP Owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, North Wales, Pa.
David Rubenstein, M.D. Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center, Team Orthopedist - Philadelphia 76ers
Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute, Athletic Trainer - US Soccer Federation
Latest Health Videos
Also on
Stay Connected