Foam Rolling: You're Doing it Wrong

I recently did a short video on Foam Rolling (SMR), because it drive me nuts. Check out the video below and I have also provided a transcript, below the video.

TRANSCRIPT:


All right, real quick here from the studio...my hair is not cooperating...it's been a long day.


I wanted to talk a little bit about self myofascial release, more commonly known as foam rolling, because it's slightly annoys me from time to time.


So we have different levels of these things. I have some sitting in the office right now, this here is a trigger point one, it's kinda sorta I would say, like a medium firmness, you have the other trigger point ones that are like the cylinders that are the tubes, hollow tubes with plastic inserts, those more hard.


I've seen people do it on PVC pipes, and I've seen people do it with actual barbells, or things like that. Now, I'm not saying that that's necessarily wrong. If you get the response you need from that, that's fine.


I think there's a few misconceptions about how this works. And what it exactly does, you don't necessarily need to put yourself in a shitload of pain in order to get the effects from self myofascial release, whether you're using a foam roller, or a ball or anything like that. I see all sorts of wackiness with this stuff, and it kind of drives me up a wall. What you're doing with this is basically creating a neurological response, telling whatever that site is to calm down.


You're not breaking up scar tissue, or fascia or anything like that. And it's a misconception, especially the scar tissue thing, which is really wacky to me, I mean, surgeons do that with a scalpel, so I'm not going to do that with my hands, I'm not going to do it with say, you know, like a Graston type tool, you're not going to do it one of these self myofascial release tools.


What you're doing is creating kind of an inhibiting response within the muscle, if that makes sense at all. So what that means is you don't necessarily have to grind yourself in order to get the effect, which I see people doing all the time in the gym. What we're doing and what I'm doing, especially as a massage therapist, we're not really affecting muscle structures, all we're touching is the skin. So with that skin shearing effect, you're creating a neurological response, essentially using Hilton's law, which has to do with the innervations below where the site of the skin you're touching. And when I do things like DNM, or a skin stretch, or a shear with a roller or a ball, you're kind of giving relief to the subcutaneous nerves. That's essentially what you're doing.


Okay, so what that means is, you don't need to beat the crap out of yourself. If you've ever been in my office and had me work on you, you know I tend to not like to go over six or seven on your relative pain scale. That's because if your central nervous system gets this response, this this sympathetic fight or flight response is going to lock up, it is going to actually do the opposite of what you want it to do.


What we want to do is get this to calm down. So just as an example, I can use this one like, for example, on the pecs, what I see people doing you see this all the time, whether it's IT band, which I'll get into in a second, or quads, they're like rolling like crazy, rapidly back and forth. This isn't what you want to do. What I'm going to do, for example, if I'm trying to hit pec minor or the pec, I'm going to find that tender spot ratcheted up to like a six or seven here. And I'm just gonna chill here 30 to 45 seconds on the tender spot.


What I might do now in order to get more response is kind of vector the skin a certain way. So I might take this and twist and hold 30 to 45 seconds, until you feel that tender spot dissipate. You don't want to be grinding on it because it's working against you.


Now, I mentioned the IT band, which is also another one of my pet peeves. The IT band is like a really thick strong band of fascia, okay? If you pull it out of a cadaver, it can withstand something like 3,000 pounds of force, which means you can basically tie it to two trucks and it's not going anywhere.


So when you're rolling the IT band, what you're essentially doing is generally affecting the vastus lateralis, which may or may not be the problem. The problem with IT band is generally coming from where it originates, which is the TFL anteriorly and the glute max. So a lot of times when I have people with what they think is IT band issues, whether it's manifesting as knee pain, I'll take a look at what's going on the TFL which is a little tiny muscle here, right where you would put your hands in your pocket, or the glute max. Generally there's some kind of relationship there that screwy that's causing whatever you think is an IT band thing.


So where I'm going with that is if you're foam rolling the IT band thinking you get relief there, you're probably not doing what you think you do. And really, when you're doing any type of foam rolling, you're not doing what you think you can do. Even with these bad boys right here (holds RockBlade tool). I'm not breaking up tissues or scar tissue or anything like that. I can't do that. Neither can you. Like I said surgeons use scalpels to do that.


So just to wrap this up, so I don't bore the the two people that are watching me right now. If you're going to foam roll, you want to find that tender spot, you want to hit it up 30-45 seconds, maybe more depending on when that pain level dissipates. And then you want to be done with it.


Now from there, if we're looking from a standpoint of "corrective exercise", which is a term I hate, because it's inherently nocebiotic, then would be the time to lengthen or stretch that muscle. Again, I'm not a big fan of static stretching. But that would be a good time to do some sort of dynamic stretching to that area, then usually strengthen agonist or antagonist whatever is going on, depending on what I've told you if we've worked together, and then some sort of integrative movement.


So if you're doing SMR, self myofascial release, foam rolling, rolling around on balls, with your piriformis, anything like that, make sure you're doing it correctly, you do not need to be doing this rapidly, you're not going to get the effect you're looking for.


If you have any questions about this, feel free to hit me up. You can hit me up on dm, email, or you can book a session with me Please come in. I'll teach you how to do all this stuff and get whatever it is in terms of your pain or mobility taken care of. And with that I am out of here.

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