Foam rolling for relief

Do you have aches and pains and sore muscles? As we age, we tend to have more challenges with body aches. I speak from experience. Most of the time I don’t talk about my aches, I just deal with them. That said, pain is often a companion for me. Way back in 2007, when I started becoming a triathlete my acupuncturist at the time, Whitfield Reeves, helped me get diagnosed with a weak butt. 

My new Trigger Point foam roller!

Weak butt causes pain

Turns out the weak butt that I have contributes to sore muscles from my hip all the way down to my foot. Discovering I have a weak butt means doing butt strengthening is very valuable, especially when it comes to lessening the leg pain I can get from running longer distances. I confess, I haven’t been doing my butt strengthening exercises since I broke my rib in January. I got out of the habit.  

This past week my co-worker at the University of Minnesota put out this statement on our Internal Scuttlebutt that we do every month to stay connected with the happenings in our work and personal lives:

“Although I’m walking almost every day – my body feels stiff. Might ask for (or buy myself) a foam roller  – has anyone tried one? Do they work for easing sore muscles? I think I just need to incorporate stretching now with the walking routine.”

Since this week I’ve been experiencing increased leg, hip and calf pain, likely due to the increased running I’m doing as I prepare for the Half Marathon I’m doing on April 24th, this question about the value of foam rollers, reminded me to get out my foam roller. In fact, it motivated me to take a look at the website of Trigger Point, which makes excellent products for muscles soreness. 

Trigger Point Magic

In fact, way back when I had a lot more disposable income (or I thought I did) I purchased the TP Performance Collection and to this day I use most of the items in the collection nearly every day. In fact, as I write this post, I’m rolling my foot on the TP FootBaller. I do this because I had a vicious case of plantar fasciitis about five years ago. Rolling my feet and calves nearly every day keeps the plantar fasciitis at bay these days. 

I own a big blue foam roller I got from Trigger Point about 6 or 7 years ago. They don’t sell this type of roller anymore, as they’ve developed (improved!) their foam roller technology. I decided to get a shorter foam roller which arrived quickly and I’ve been rolling on the Grid foam roller for a few days now. Thankfully it’s helping! 

Maybe you’re wondering why and how a foam roller works. I was curious about this too. In short, foam rolling is like getting a daily massage. I love deep tissue massage and it’s in my budget to get a massage every month. 

Massage therapy safety during the pandemic

Side note:  my massage therapist has an outstanding COVID-19 Safety Protocol. She gives all her clients a high quality face mask and at the end of the massage she sprays the mask with alcohol and stores the mask until the next visit in a brown paper bag. She also purchased and installed in her massage room a very high quality air filtration system. The day before your scheduled massage she calls and asks a series of questions about your covid exposure. In short, I feel super safe going monthly to get a massage from her. 

Back to foam rollers… 

When I owned TeamWILD Athletics, several of the coaches raved about the value of incorporating foam rolling into your athletic routine. Here’s an article by Harvard Health about why we should all add foam rolling into our workouts

From the article, Michael Bento, a personal trainer at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, has this to say:

“Foam rolling helps release tension in the muscles, relieve muscle soreness, and improve flexibility and range of motion. It’s not clear exactly how that happens. “The current theory is that the sustained pressure on the muscle signals the central nervous system to reduce tension, similar to the effect of a deep tissue massage,” Bento explains.

Releasing tension makes tight muscles more receptive to stretching. “After foam rolling you get about a 10-minute window of increased flexibility,” Bento says. “That enhances stretching exercises and helps you move better in a workout.”

Moaning for release

What I notice is that while I roll I moan and and feel a lot of release. The moaning is critical as it’s a method of deep breathing and releasing. After I roll, I consistently notice that I have much less pain in my butt, hips and legs. Earlier this week, after I did a hill repeat session, my butt, hips and legs were really sore, so I rolled a few days in a row and the tension totally released. 

The other thing I’ve learned after years of rolling is that it doesn’t take a long time to feel results. In fact, one of the sites I read encouraged people to roll on any given part of the body for just 10 to 20 seconds at the most. That said, Trigger Point has a YouTube channel and I’ve been watching some of their instructional videos. Here’s a good one about rolling your glutes.

Who’s a candidate for foam rolling?

I’m not a personal trainer or a physical therapist, but I have been an endurance athlete for a while now, and I think just about anyone is a candidate for foam rolling! From the earlier article, Bento says most people will benefit from foam rolling as part of a pre- or post-workout routine, or simply as a quick break from sitting. “The hip, shoulder, and ankle muscles can become very tight from long periods of sitting on a couch or at a desk,” he explains. “Rolling for just a few minutes can help loosen them.”

Please note, foam rolling isn’t right for people with open wounds, fractures, flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis, deep-vein thrombosis, advanced osteoporosis, or neuropathy that causes pain. 

I hope you give it a try! Let me know. I love your comments and hearing from you!

Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate of Trigger Point. It’s simply a product I like and use everyday. I like to share good resources!

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5 thoughts on “Foam rolling for relief”

  1. I got hooked on using a foam roller after trying one at my chiropractor’s office. I got one with a lot of knobs on it- it’s not smooth. My hips carry a lot of tension and rolling them out at the end of a day feels great! Thanks for the pictures- I’m going to try some new rolls!

    • Yes! So good to hear this Nadine!!! I 100% agree with you, a daily roll on the hip area is a healing wonder!!

  2. I find that foam rolling certain body parts can put considerable strain on muscles and joints that may not be up to it. My shoulders can’t handle some of the movements required to hit those body parts. Several years ago I bought an early version of the Roll Recovery muscle roller. It looks like sets of inline roller skate wheels on a spring loaded contraption, but it really works and doesn’t require you to move around in a potentially awkward position. The newer versions are customizable to offer regular, plush, or more aggressive massage.

    • Cabe,
      Thanks for this great additional resource. I will check it out! I mostly need to roll my quads, glutes and calves, so really easy to do those parts of my body on a foam roller. I love it that you’ve introduced me to another resource for recovery!

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