Foam Rollers: One of the Most Beneficial Tools for an Athlete

If your an athlete you probably have sustained some form of injury throughout your time on the field. Years ago the way most athletes dealt with injuries was to either rest until the injury healed or electrical stimulation or massage. The times have changed for athletes today, it is a vastly different world we live in now. The days of playing just one sport and having the rest of the year to play multiple sports or rest have fallen by the wayside. Typically today’s athletes train all year round for the same sport, with the additions of travel teams, club teams, rec leagues and so forth an athlete is training 24/7. While many in an organization will say playing all year round has it’s benefits, it also has it’s fair share of detriments as well. The problem with training all year round for the same sport is that the body never gets enough time to recover from the vigorous activity and therefore can lead to multiple over-use injuries. When an athlete plays multiple sports it typically allows the body to move in different ways and develop other parts of the body that may be lagging, which is why cross-training for a sport is now a favored modality. The other challenge is that a fair amount of coaches actually have no idea how to train properly for their specific sport. One example of this is a soccer coach having their team run distances further than a mile when the sport involves short ballistic movements. This causes the players to become slower to the ball rather than faster. There are far too many examples to list, but this is why you should consult a TRAINED PROFESSIONAL who actually understands the needs of the sport and team. As a result of improper training protocol and insufficient recovery times, athletes have to rely on other means to treat problems they are having. This is where the foam roller comes into play.

The foam roller, or self myofascial release is a great tool for lengthening and elongating the muscles that are sore and tired. Instead of simply lengthening the muscles, it massages the muscles intensely similar to that of a massage therapist. The foam roller is sort of like utilizing a rolling pin on pizza dough. Typically you want to roll each area of the body trying to see where your problems may lie and then work on working on those areas that are most painful. You can also buy foam rollers which have hard nodules on them aka “Rumble Roller”. These are my personal favorite because they are harder and more dense, plus they don’t lose their shape as much as the softer versions do. If you are using the Rumble Roller you can also use the nodules on the painful areas much like trigger point work to be able to get the muscle to relax, thus decreasing your pain. These rollers typically are a little more painful to start, however the more you do it the less it hurts. The foam roller is not a cure all, it is merely a tool to be used by athletes, much like proper nutrition, training, stretching, warming up and so forth.

Some of the common injured areas I typically see are the low back issues, quads, hamstrings, iliotibial band, calfs, and shin splints. If you look at your anatomy chart you will see that these are all interconnected to one another and usually are related. A fair amount of problems start at the hips and work their way down to the lower extremities. The foam roller is a great way to determine potential issues in an individual to prevent a catastrophic injury later on. If you know of an athlete or anyone who is in pain with an injury, tell them to reach out to Xcellerated Speed Training at 610 334-4120. I would be more than happy to help you eliminate the pain your having and get you back to feeling like your old self again.

About Tony Sabanos

Certified by the International Sports Sciences Association as a Certified Personal Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition. Tony graduated from Reading High School and has a Bachelor of Science in Business from Penn State.

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