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  • Writer's pictureDr. AJ Gagliardi

Staying Healthy with Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a relatively new concept to most athletes. Many people have heard about it in passing, but they do not really know the true potential that lies within this technique. Foam rolling, which is a form of self myofascial (muscle and its outer covering) release has been used for years to help stretch, massage, and relax muscles, along with their fascial connections. This in turn decreases the amount of stress put through the joints of the body, decreasing your likelihood for injury while training.

There are three reactions that occur in the muscle and fascia during a foam rolling session. First, the muscle is put under a focal stretch. Secondly, the muscle and fascia are deeply massaged increasing the blood flow to the area being treated, and lastly compression within the muscle turns down neurological cells called muscle spindle fibers which are switched “on” with a muscle that is too tight. So when you foam roll you get 3 benefits for the price of 1. The muscle is stretched, blood flow is increased, and you are neurologically decreasing the tone and tension of the muscle or muscles being rolled. This allows you to warm up, stretch, and relax a muscle all at once.

So who wants to stretch anymore? That’s what I said to myself when I first started foam rolling. I am not very flexible, which makes stretching unenjoyable for me at all. I was skeptical at first, but after rolling for a couple weeks I loved it and removed most stretches from my routine. Consequently, I have never felt better and foam roll before and after cross-fitting and running. I am by no means telling you to totally ditch your pre-workout routine, but using the foam roller is a great and inexpensive way to stay healthy and keep you out of the doctor’s office.

But what happens if foam rolling doesn’t work and it does not help me? This will occur in one of two situations. One is that you have scar tissue or adhesion built up within or around muscle. Two, is the possibility that the injury you have is more severe than you thought. If you cannot get yourself better within a 2 week period you should most definitely consult your sports physician. If you chose that person to be me, feel free to call my office at 203-208-0972. We will get rid of that scar tissue and get you back to what you love to do.

Guidelines to Safe Foam Rolling

When to Foam Roll 1. Improve Mobility and Range of Motion 2. Decrease Adhesion and Scar Tissue 3. Decrease Tone of Overactive Muscle 4. Improve Quality of Movement 5. Home Therapy to Keep you Healthy and/or Between ART Treatments or Deep Massage Work

When NOT to Foam Roll 1. Acute Injuries (Within 3-5 Days of Injury) 2. If you Have Circulatory Problems 3. If you Have Chronic Pain Syndromes a. I.e.- Fibromyalgia 4. Never Roll Over a Boney Bump or Joint a. I.e.- Hip Bone 5. While taking any blood thinning medications a. I.e.- Coumadin


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