Since I began introducing people to the softer foam roller, this piece of equipment has become the single most popular item in my studio. And it is deserving.
A few minutes a day using the foam roller effectively can help you move more easily, improve flexibility, and reduce pain associated with tension in your body.
Even when I’m very busy, I don’t go more than a couple of days without using mine. It’s a lifesaver – especially after extended periods of sitting (such as while composing this on the computer) or when I’ve built up too much back tension from oh, say, paying bills or being in D.C. area traffic. On the other end of the spectrum, lots of walking or time on the elliptical will have my IT Band begging for foam rolling attention. (Many runners and cyclists can identify with this IT Band back-talk!)
The foam roller is not an IRON
Lots of people seem to own at least one type of roller, though most don’t know how to reap the full benefits. Usually people hop on and just start rolling this way and that – a “technique” that MELT Method founder Sue Hitzmann refers to as analogous to ironing a shirt. (Have you seen those folks at the gym, rolling up and down their legs as if “ironing” them?)
There’s nothing really wrong with that, assuming an otherwise healthy, non-injured person is doing the “ironing.” It’s just not the most effective way to use the foam roller if that’s all you’re doing.
Soft or hard?
Also, there’s a difference between using a softer, more forgiving roller and a super-hard roller, not to mention the ones with knobby projections so you can really badger your body! Again, there is a place for each of these. But in order to know what it is, it helps to understand a bit of anatomy & physiology, and how these pieces of equipment are intended to address what’s occurring in your body. If you’re interested in the gory details, here’s an introduction to fascial tissue from one of the renowned experts in the field, Thomas Myers.
During the first foam rolling class I hosted in the studio earlier this year, the participants and I found that learning to use the foam roller lends itself to a longer session that gives people plenty of time to explore its many uses.
So I’ve scheduled a foam rolling workshop at three different times this Fall. And since foam rolling is one of my favorite things to do, I look forward to scheduling more. If you’re interested but can’t make it to one of these, please drop a note here!