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Foam Rolling – not sexy but DAMN good for you!

Posted by Tony Laurent on

Here it is–that time of year that we give ourselves every excuse to go crazy with the calories. It’s tradition. Everybody does it. I couldn’t stop myself. It’s soooo good! I deserve it. I was hungry. I’m stressed because of the Giants/Bears/Derrick Rose…the reasons go on and on. No matter what you decide to do with your diet, remember you have a choice and whatever it is, you have to respond appropriately and ASAP. If you manage to avoid eating your entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting, then by all means…as you were. If you’re like most of us, it’s time to move.

We all have degrees of muscle imbalances in our bodies, brought on by things such as sitting for long hours, using a computer mouse, previous injuries that have led to movement compensations, repetitive use, and genetics to name a few. Muscle imbalance affects the way a joint functions and occurs when one muscle becomes overactive and another becomes under-active. This starts the injury cycle. Case in point, shin-splints are a treatable (even preventable) common running injury caused by muscle imbalance, specifically overactive calf and under-active tibialis muscles. To cure shin-splints: 1) roll your calf muscles (lateral gastroc, medial gastroc and soleus) 2) static stretch them, 3) strengthen your tibialis muscle with exercises that require flexion of the foot in an upward direction (dorsiflexion).

KEY POINT: Avoid exercises that activate overused/overactive muscle groups. These muscles need to be inhibited. Calm them by using a foam roller. As you get used to rolling, you can progress to firmer options, such as a rumble roller (with rubber spikes), a softball, a baseball and eventually a lacrosse ball (woooweeee!!!). Many people roll their calves only. However, any overused or tight muscles in the body, including the muscles along the lateral side of shins, thighs (front, back and sides), shoulders, as well as the muscles along the spine, upper back, and chest, should be rolled also.

HOW TO: Place the roller under the intended area. Apply as much of your body weight on the spot as you can handle. Roll until you hit a spot in the muscle that feels tight or sensitive, then hold it there. Hold that position for 20-30 seconds then continue to the next tight spot and repeat. If you feel discomfort, don’t fret–it’s natural and worth it. Do this three times a week. Steal some time while you’re catching up on your Netflix faves and your joints will regain proper range of motion, firing patterns and biomechanical function. Rolling my hip complex after decades of neglect has provided me with a wider range of motion and allowed me to improve my squat technique. I’ve nearly tripled my squat weight without injury. Yay me!

If you haven’t already, see your local trainer (or get a complimentary assessment from muscle + bone nyc) to identify your muscle imbalances. Soon you’ll be on path to achieving those fitness goals while remaining injury free.

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