Yeah, I Still Foam Roll.

The Fitness Pendulum Always Swings to the Extremes:

Short Term, Everyone Overreacts. Long Term, Everyone Underreacts…..

Rarely does the industry look at anything critically, simply on its merits and faults, weigh them and apply that tool as necessary.

Case in point:

Foam Rolling

Lets take our way back machine to circa 2005.

The foam roller took the fitness world by storm <—-I know I’m being dramatic here, but it kinda is true.

Everyone was using it, for everything..

Core

Stretching

To “break up scar tissue” <—-I used to say that too. No, its not true. 

Hell, places were doing complete “classes” on foam rolling.

Then the last 5 years happened…

And now, it’s REALLY freaking uncool to foam roll.

The foam roller may be the single biggest time waster in the fitness industry. – Dr. John Rusin

Why Your Foam Roller is Nearly Useless Ifast (on youtube)

*Granted, in the end I agree with a lot of whats in these peices and what’s above is mostly clickbait(y), kinda.

Wait, But What?

How did this happen?

Welp, you see, what happens is (like stability balls, balance training and the “CrossFit works for everything” before it) you can’t apply the same thing/ tool/ method etc. to everything.

When All You Have is A Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail.

So the Foam Roller was curing communicable disease really cool, too cool.

Then, the hype died and now it’s REALLY uncool…

But I still use it..

Actually, I think it’s amazing.

And honestly, I dont care why, I just know, FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE and have seen WITH MY OWN EYES that it can work.

And the evidence, usually, backs me up:

“foam rolling does improve short-term (acute) flexibility and that this improvement lasts up to, but no longer than, 10-minutes (1, 2, 3). Moreover, foam rolling has also been shown to improve long-term (chronic) flexibility when it is performed on a regular basis” – Science for Sport

So, I like foam rolling and use it daily for myself and clients, but I realize it has some serious limitations.

The largest of which is….foam rolling can’t fix.

And I think, THAT’s the problem.

What had Happened Was:

The foam roller unfortunately got a wrap as a “fixing” tool.

It’s NOT and NEVER was meant to be.

Its not going to FIX sh@t.

It’s NOT going to fix your crappy IT band.

It’s NOT going to fix your crappy thoracic extension

It’s NOT going to fix your terrible hip mobility.

When you build a house, the electrician isn’t going to heat and cool your house…but he’s gonna allow that to happen when the proper systems are in place.

He’s a facilitator…

That’s what the foam roller is.

It’s a facilitator.

If you’re IT Band flares up all the time, but when you roll it out, it calms down…..

If you’re hunched over from sitting at a desk all day and the roller allows you to get back into a good posture.

If your hips are super tight and the roller allows you to sit a bit deeper in the squat….

The Roller can, in some people, sometimes (see how non-absolute I’m being?)…help facilitate good movement.

NO it’s not the Wolf Fixer.

But the roller allows the fixer, ie good training, to put you in good positions, postures and ranges of motion that MAY overtime FIX (or at least alleviate) some of these issues.

“Soft tissue work is important, and especially for those who already have mobility issues. Foam rolling properly is key for loosening and lengthening the muscles to a point in which they can be put in the right positions.”Orion Hones

For Example:

The world now says:

“Rolling your IT band is a waste of time. It’s tight, its gonna stay tight and rolling aint gonna help.”

Here’s my 2 cents.

Tight IT bands are usually the result of poor motor control.

Sure, Q angle, weak hips, core and overly strong quads all contribute.

But ultimately, I think its a result of usually YEARS of allowing the knee into valgus collapse and using the IT band as a knee/ hip stabilizer.

Now, I think its logical to say, “If I get stronger hips (glutes) hamstrings and core (mostly obliques) my knees wont collapse as band and I’ll put less stress on my IT band”.

Personally, i agree.

So long as you’re conscious of not going into valgus collapse when you train, stand, walk etc.

So here’s the point:

 

IF rolling around on the roller, for whatever reason, gets someones IT band to calm down, “loosen up” and ALLOWS them to get into a better, less valgus, position while training wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Yes, obviously, it would be best just to go straight to perfect movement…

But life doesn’t work like that.

If someone comes in all hunched over and 10 reps of extensions on the roller help them get loose and “tall” again…

Isn’t that worth it?

That Said:

Don’t be silly, if you’re taking more than a few minutes to get “loose” on the roller, it’s probably too much.

Don’t be a warmup warrior.

Just A Thought:

I’ve only had maybe 2 people who said they felt worse after using the roller.

99/100 times people say something to the effect of,

“I feel a lot looser/ better”

Wait, they feel better?

And somehow the roller is a waste of time?

Isn’t that kinda the purpose of training, to ADD to their life, to feel better?

So, no, I’m not throwing my roller out yet and I don’t think you should either.

But understand, it aint gonna fix NOTHING.

You gotta actually train and do the work for that.

3 Rules to Rolling:

1: Match the pressure to the pain.

Dont go all out and get the hardest surface you can find to grind on.

Have enough pressure on the tissues that you can “feel” them, but not so much that you’re brusing or in massive pain.

ie. You probably DO NOT need a barbell.

2: STOP, on hot spots.

If you find a really hot spot, sit there and let things soak in for a minute.

3: Never more than 5 minutes.

If you NEED more, you gotta fix something.

If you just WANT and LIKE more, all the more power to ya.

Ultimately How/ When Should You Roll?

When you’re tight, think it would help and Thomas Myers put it best:

“Rolling that is mindful, slow, and perceptive is way more useful than painful rolling that is done quickly while texting, listening to music, and eyeing the hottie on the other side of the gym.” –Tom Myers 

What Roller to Get?

Personally, I’ve always liked the Perform Better ones, but have recently used This One from Amazon and liked it just as well.

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