American Council on Exercise (ACE):1 states "Foam rolling is also called myofascial release and is designed to work out the "knots" in your muscles. You could compare the practice to self-massage. The technical terms for 'knots' are trigger points or myofascial adhesions. Fascia is a form of connective tissue that wraps and bundles muscles (myo) together. Myofascial adhesions can develop through stress, training, overuse, underuse, movement imbalances and injuries. They are essentially points of constant tension and addressing them can have a positive effect on your workouts. Ignoring them can lead to further dysfunction and may perpetuate and/or cause injury."
Foam rolling benefits are often compared to getting a massage, because as you roll on it, fibrous tissue is broken down and circulation is boosted, helping to relieve tension and pain. Which I would agree with, but then comes the slippery slope of archaic ideas of fascia and what can be accomplished with a foam roller.
I don’t want to just talk about the mistakes, what good does that really accomplish?! Instead, I hope to empower you HOW to properly use the tool you see in your gym, physical therapist’s office, and stuck in the corner of your basement or bedroom.
Here we go!
MISTAKE #1. Rolling Directly Where the Pain Is
Sounds counterproductive but remember, a painful area may be the result of tension imbalances elsewhere in your body. So, rolling a painful, inflamed area might increase inflammation and inhibit healing. It's often best to roll just a few inches away from a highly sensitive area first and then use large, sweeping motions to cover the entire area.
Try this: A good example is the IT band (Iliotibial band), ITBS (iliotibial band syndrome) is a type of knee injury for which foam rolling is often prescribed, but it has been proven, clinically, it's best to roll the muscles that attach to your IT band (your gluteus maximus, lateral hamstrings and quad, TFL (tensor fasciae latae) rather than the IT band itself. Not only may the IT band be inflamed but the IT band in greatly innervated with nerves, so it will always feel tender. I always steer people away from rolling the IT band, EVER, for that very reason. You get better, quicker results by addressing the muscles at attach to the IT band.
MISTAKE #2. Rolling Too Fast
Avoid rolling too quickly; your movements on the foam roller should be slow and concentrated. If you roll too fast, your muscles won't have time to adapt to and manage the compression, and you're not going to eliminate adhesions or address any trigger points. Rolling to fast will actually do the opposite of what you trying to accomplish, it will excite the muscle fibers and create a response that creates tension.
Try this: Slow down, allow your body to process the compression.
MISTAKE #3. Spending Too Much Time on Knots
It's OK to work on your knots using the foam roller, but if you spend five or 10 minutes on the same spot, you could cause damage to the tissue or nerves. This is especially true if you also attempt to place your entire weight on the knot.
Try this: Ideally, you should spend just 20-30 seconds on each tender spot, rest and roll while managing how much pressure you apply. When using a foam roller you should apply enough pressure so that you feel some tension released, either with constant pressure or by making small movements back and forth. A mild amount of discomfort is expected but you shouldn't be in pain. Remember, less is more!
MISTAKE #4. Using Bad Posture
Using a foam roller properly requires you to hold your body in various positions, which requires strength. If you use improper form or bad posture while doing this, it could exacerbate existing postural deviations and cause injury.
Try this: The best way to ensure you're using the proper posture is to work with an experienced personal trainer. If this isn't possible, consider videotaping yourself while foam rolling, and then comparing your form to the proper form. You may be able to spot problems and correct your posture this way.
MISTAKE #5. Using a Foam Roller on Your Lower Back
This is counterproductive because rolling your lower back will cause your spinal muscles to contract to protect your spine. Rolling your lower back is no bueno!
Try this: To release your lower back, try rolling the muscles that connect to it, including your piriformis, hip flexors, and quads.
FYI - It's OK to work your upper back with a foam roller because your shoulder blades and muscles protect your spine, but stop when you get to the end of your rib cage.
Special note about foam rollers: not all foam rollers are created equal!! I particularly like a padded plastic roller called the Trigger Point Performance Foam Roller, as this one doesn't wear out over time; it retains its shape to help you get the benefits and you can get them in a variety of sizes.
Remember, you don't need to wait until a sore spot appears to bring out your foam roller. You can actually use it daily (even if it's for just a few minutes) to help prevent trouble spots in your muscles from occurring. The actual foam rolling should feel mildly uncomfortable but not painful. If you use too much pressure, you can cause your muscles to tense up instead of relax. So start out gradually and lightly, and increase the pressure slowly until your experience only a tolerable level of discomfort.
I would love to hear your comments, feel free to shoot me an email or, better yet, come spend some time on my table!
Remember, as always, it’s your call,
Lisa McNeil M.Ed, CFSS-M
Fascia, it has been a buzz word in the health and fitness industry for the past 10 years, everyone seems to have a technique or device that will condition, stretch, manipulate or whatever this thing is called fascia. But what really is fascia?
Over the next few blogs I want to try to explain and help you understand the ins and outs of this newest trend. By the end of this series you will understand of what fascia is and, more importantly, what it is not; what it does, and what it does not do. My desire is for you to have enough of an understanding that you can confidently wade through the truth and lies of what you are being asked to do or purchase.
Let’s start with the science: Fascia is the second largest connective tissue in your body, number 1 is blood. Yep, it is that prevalent. It actually comes in a variety of forms and has a few different functions.
At the deepest it is the visceral lining found around your organs like your heart, lungs, stomach, uterus…it keeps things lubricated.
Next, we have the structure. Have you ever skinned a chicken breast, noticed that really thin film between the skin and ‘meat’? …that’s fascia. Structurally we have two components of fascia. First, it encompasses each muscle fiber and muscle group, it also surrounds the nerves as they run alongside and through your muscles. Second, fascia is like the saran wrap of the body. Remember the chicken skin analogy, if we removed all of our skin, everything would still be in place because of our fascial sheath. Sooooooooo cool!
Finally, keloids and scar tissue. Clinically, this is a hot topic button in research and the British Fascia Symposium has launched studies examining that scar tissue and keloids are fascial tissue, not collagen. In Blog 4: Can you stretch fascia? I will talk more about the impact and creation of scars and keloids have on your body, movement and creation of pain.
Fascia plays an important role in the support and function of our bodies, since it surrounds and attaches to all structures. In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When one experiences physical trauma, emotional trauma, scarring, or inflammation, however, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted, and a source of tension to the rest of the body. Trauma, such as a fall, car accident, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture and repetitive stress injuries has cumulative effects on the body. The changes trauma causes in the fascial system influences comfort and function of our body. Fascial restrictions can exert excessive pressure causing all kinds of symptoms producing pain, headaches or restriction of motion. Fascial restrictions affect our flexibility and stability and are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and perform daily activities. Fascia is a pretty important organ.
You will hear me refer to fascia as a connective tissue or organ, that’s because fascia MAY graduating from being a connective tissue, to becoming regarded as a structural system with well-defined functions from embryo to adult. Hmmmm, not sure about you but I will be following that development!!
Phew, well, now that I have dumped 30 years of clinical research and 9 years of my education on you, my hope is you feel a little more educated and have a better understanding how fascia is an important part of your body. Over the next few articles I will be giving you advice and information that come from working with the thousands of clients and my training from the leaders in research and practice, so stay tuned!
I would love to hear your comments, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or, better yet, come spend some time on my table!
Remember, as always, it’s your call,
Lisa McNeil M.Ed, CFSS-M
Skeptical? Studies suggest that you can use your mind to manage pain
Tricks to control painIf you're in pain, you may be able to harness your thoughts to help fight it. Skeptical? Studies suggest these pain relief tools can work.
"Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis can learn mind-body techniques to assist the body and mind in relaxing," says Janice M. Singles, Psy.D., of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. "This generally reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body, allowing the immune system to be better able to fight off illness."
Some techniques work for short term (or acute) pain, others for chronic pain. Either way, here are 6 methods to try.
Meditation may be one of the most powerful tonics for pain.
One 2011 study found that mindfulness meditation, which focuses on the breath, reduced pain intensity anywhere from 11% to 70% and pain unpleasantness from 20% to 93% in people who had a heat probe applied to their calves. And these study participants received only 80 minutes of training—other studies indicate that the more meditation hours the better when it comes to subverting pain.
Researchers are now pinpointing specific regions of the brain that are responsible for the effect.
You don't have to be an expert meditator to reap the benefits of breathing. Practicing deep, diaphragmatic breathing (that's breathing from the belly rather than shallow inhaling and exhaling from the chest) can be very helpful, says Singles, who is a distinguished psychologist in orthopedics and rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin.
"This helps harness the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the quieting response, as opposed to the symptoms of arousal that happen with the pain signals themselves," she explains. Women have been using the breathing techniques of Lamaze to help manage childbirth pain for decades.
If you visualize your pain as a throbbing, red mass, try to slowly shrink it or make it pink and soft. Or imagine yourself on the beach or seeing your worries melt away. "The key is knowing what kinds of things are relaxing for you and envisioning that can be helpful," says Slawsby. "Visualization can be great for arthritis patients to ease joint pain."
You can imagine you're in a warm bath with hands floating on the water. "Go through the whole imagery of going into the tub, your toes, ankles, knees, hip joint, lower back, middle back, shoulders," she says. "Imagine the joints being warm and relaxed without the pressure of the regular planetary pull because you're in the water. It gives you a buoyancy."
Not surprisingly, patients who suffer unrelenting pain can tend to have repetitive, negative thoughts, but these can serve to actually increase the pain.
Try to switch to more positive thoughts and, in particular, avoid catastrophizing or imagining the worst.
"Somebody's thinking is very powerful and very important to the management of pain," says Singles. One study found that cognitive behavioral therapy—which focuses on changing thought patterns—combined with a self-help manual provided relief to patients with unexplained pain, weakness, and dizziness.
Getting your thoughts and feelings on paper has been shown to relieve pain in many different populations. It can even enhance immune function. James W. Pennebaker, PhD, a leading researcher in the field, recommends writing before bed for a minimum of 15 minutes a day for at least three or four days.
Some possible topics: Something that you are thinking or worrying about too much, something you've been avoiding, or something you think is affecting your life in an unhealthy way.
The adage "laughter is the best medicine" is no joke. A pilot study conducted at UCLA found that children and adolescents who watched humorous videos while their hands were soaking in frigid water were better able to tolerate the pain.
Another study attributed the effects of laughter on the release of endorphins, nature's own analgesic.
Even just smiling can change your mood from bad to good and that may help make pain more bearable.
By: AMANDA GARDNER
April 01, 2014
We usually don’t think about our feet. Until they hurt. We tend to take them for granted, but like other parts of our body they can get tired, overused, sore, and in need of some attention.
When they start to hurt it can lead to many other problems.
When your feet hurt you don’t want to do much of anything. You just want to stay off of them. Your body likes to move, though. And your brain functions better when you are active. So foot pain can quickly lead to other issues.
Foot pain can cause of other pain in your body. If your foot hurts, you change the way you stand, walk, and move. Those changes affect your legs. When your legs hurt, you make more changes in what you do, which affects your hips, then your back, then your neck.
Some jobs involve being on your feet most of the day. Often it is on hard floors or rough terrain. You may have a long walk from the parking lot to your job.
At home we walk around to take care of our place, our family, and our belongings. We shop, stand chatting with a friend, stand in lines, and walk around doing errands. We cook, do laundry, clean and put things away. You may make multiple trips up and down stairs every day. Yard work and home maintenance keeps us on our feet as well.
You may kick things out of the way or stomp your feet to let out some frustration. You may do extra walking for exercise or from an inconvenience, or run to make it somewhere on time.
If you enjoy sports you use your feet to run, jump, and kick. Your feet take a real pounding since they support all your body weight along with the extra force from the exertion.
For exercise or fun activities you use your feet for yoga and fitness classes, hiking, climbing, kickboxing, and dance - and hauling all of your equipment around..
Your feet have things dropped on them and they get stepped on. You step on unexpected things such as rocks, tools, or toys (Legos!).
All of your leg joints are all affected by your feet. Joints are under pressure from muscles and bones pulling and twisting on them. Relieving foot pain allows your muscles and joints to be in their proper positions and with less pressure on them you feel better.
We squeeze our feet into uncomfortable shoes or boots. Sometimes it may be for the sake of fashion, such as high heels. Other times work footwear is uncomfortable. Sandals may be more comfortable but they may not provide the support your feet need.
Manual bodywork provides relief from Plantar Fasciitis, heel pain, and other common foot pain. Most muscles that move your foot start in your calf, so relieving foot pain can also reduce calf pain too.
Your feet do a lot for you. Give them some attention so you can keep doing what you want.
A little from Dr. Dan, a little from Lisa but always a lot of good stuff!