Recently, we have been incorporating soft tissue therapy into our rehabilitation sessions. Foam rollers enable us to target problem areas such as the glutes (butt), hip flexors (front of hip), and IT band (outside of thigh). Areas that require attention vary person to person and can even vary sides, right or left, on a particular individual. Foam rolling can take anywhere from a few minutes to 10 minutes. It can be done before and/or after a workout or on its own.
Foam rolling is simply, the poor man’s massage. Nothing can beat the expertise and precision of a massage therapist, but we can get some good work done on the legs and hips with the roller. Advanced users can move on to something harder such as a softball.
When you first use a foam roller, you will most likely be experiencing a lot of pressure, if you are doing it right. We are working on primarily the fascia which is similar to a connective tissue, but is thought to have some contractual elements similar to muscle. At the same time, fascia can be thought of as a skin that covers our muscles.
Above, is a diagram of a the superficial back fascial line. As you can see it is connected from head to toe. It is connected so that it can aid in movement. If one of these areas becomes tight from injury or underuse it can effect any other part of the fascial line. It has been documented that if a person has a tight plantar fascia (bottom of the foot) it can actually cause symptoms of headaches. If you look at the diagram again, you can imagine how.
In addition to making everyday movements easier, soft tissue therapy has positive effects on recovery time, muscle density, knots, and trigger points. At about $30 dollars for a foam roller and $3 dollars for a softball we get a lot of bang for our buck. Bottom line, anything that helps you move better and recover faster is definitely worth a few minutes of time.