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May Wellness: That’s How We Roll

May Wellness: That’s How We Roll

| April 24, 2024

In my endless pursuit of seeking out innovative practices towards healthy living, I stumbled across a day of national recognition in May that I suspect everyone may not be aware of. While many of us associate May with Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day, you may not be aware of the celebration that takes place in May in honor of the foam roller.  Yep, May 11th  is National Foam Rolling Day!  This is the day of the year created to reflect on the benefit of the foam roller, aka the poor man’s massage.

Foam rolling is not new. It has been around since the early 1920s created by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, a Ukrainian-Israeli physicist, engineer and martial artist. Inspired by the shape and texture of packing rollers, he understood how to repurpose this object for body support and balance work.  His technique sought to reduce pain and mobility issues while improving physical functioning through the awareness of our own body. Fast forward to 1987 when Sean Gallagher, a physiotherapist and student of this “Feldenkrais Method” began to use these rollers as self-massaging tools, and boom, the foam rolling industry took off. (Ruscoe, 2021)

The practice of foam rolling is a Self-Myofascial Release Technique. Myo (muscle) fascial (fascia)  Pain is a chronic condition. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds and supports your nerves, joints, tendons and muscles. When it’s healthy, it’s slippery and smooth and it stretches with movement. When muscles have been tensed continually due to stress, overuse or repetitive motions, the fascia can seize up. The fascia becomes thick, dry and tight--making it harder to move. The body, in response to the pain, will limit its own range of motion. That pain generally does not go away and will require medicine or physical therapy. A massage therapist would be able to pinpoint those areas in your body and use pressure to stretch and soften that tissue. But many of us may not have the time, resources or comfort level to access those types of services. (Marks, 2023)

Enter the foam roller. Foam rolling is an option to help ease muscle stiffness and soreness that you can do in the comfort of your own home. They can also fit into most budgets (you can pick up a foam roller for as little as $5). Foam rollers come in all shapes and sizes, and in various levels of firmness. Smooth rollers are best for newbies as their even surface is less painful than their textured counterparts. The textured rollers have ridges and knobs and are used for deeper penetration and to work out the knots. Foam covered massage sticks can be used on your legs and upper back. Foam balls are best for targeted muscle areas. If you go to a gym, ask the trainer for tips and safety measures to adhere to when using the foam roller. If you work out at home, you can easily access hours of viewing time for informative videos on how to use foam rollers effectively. We do recommend that you do your research before jumping into foam rolling. Always speak with your doctor before introducing any new resource into your exercise routine. (Chertoff, 2019)

This month’s challenge does not exist within a calendar. The challenge is to research the history and benefits of foam rolling if you never have. Maybe try it out at the gym if you never paid it any mind. Make an effort to explore the overall potential benefits of foam rolling. Foam rollers can be used to loosen up before a workout, increase flexibility or reduce muscle soreness and tension. When using a foam roller, my user tips are Take it Slow, Hold the Positions for at least 30 seconds and Never Roll Over a Joint or a Bone. Depending on your needs, you may want to use it on the front and/or back of your thighs, your IT band, your upper back or the gluteus maximum-- or all of the above! Our goal here at Tycor will be to Use the Foam Roller at least 3 times a week for the Month of May. Why? Well, because That’s How We Roll!

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Sources:

Chertoff, J. (2019, April 11). www.healthline.com. Retrieved from What Are the Benefits of Foam Rolling?: https://www.healthline.com/health/foam-roller-benefits

Marks, J. (2023, November 21). www.webmd.com. Retrieved from What Is Fascia?: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-fascia

Ruscoe, G. (2021, 3 12). Foam Roller. Retrieved from https://history.physio: https://history.physio/foam-roller/