You may have heard the term “foam rolling” but you may not know exactly what it is. Wether you are an athlete, dancer, like to walk a lot or a commuter taking a lot of subway stairs every day, it is important to roll out your muscles. Foam rolling is a way of lengthening the muscles, similar to the work of soft tissue massage when you visit your physical therapist.
Foam rolling is great for larger muscles such as those on your back and legs. All you need is a foam roller and a mat. Place the roller on the floor and then lay on top of it. Yep, it’s that easy.
Foam rolling for the quads and IT bands is very important for us all. Relaxing these muscles can help prevent knee pain, like we spoke about last week. To foam roll the quads, place the roller on the floor, preferably on top of a yoga mat. Lay on top of the roller with both legs evenly on the roller, with the foam roller at the top of your thighs. Slowly and evenly roll backward and forward over the roller until you find a spot that feels like a knot is in your muscles. Hang out on that spot, breathing in and out, for 30 seconds to a minute. When the muscle relaxes there is a great sense of relief and the knot lets go. Do not roll over your knees or any other bony area.
For work on your IT bands; the fascia on the side of your thigh; lay on the foam roller with your bottom leg straight and top leg bent to support you. More of your body weight is now on the roller, so use that top leg to unload some weight. Many people have tight IT bands and this may feel like a lot at first. Be sure to always roll in a pain free and strain free way.
Roll out your muscles every day. Even just a lap around the block, especially in this snowy weather, is enough to work these muscles. The more you roll the more relaxed your muscles will be, leading to better function.
To learn more about foam rolling, soft tissue work or help with knee or muscle issues, you may want to have one-on-one with a physical therapist. Our team at Miccass Physical Therapy on the Upper West Side can help you figure all you need to know about IT band work, foam rolling, and anything else which may be bringing you pain!