I have preached the benefits of foam rollers for years to both my elite runners and recreational runners. But it wasn’t until my first 8 mile run that I realized EXACTLY how beneficial they are. Here is the concept, when you run, or do any activity for that matter, muscles will contract and relax, causing joints to move. Pretty basic so far. The problem is that over time, your body develops movement patterns, some of these movement patterns are normal, some are abnormal, but the result is the same. The more we move, the more we REINFORCE those movements.
The BIG problem is when you reinforce abnormal movements, it will result in injury, but here is the funny part. Even when you reinforce proper movements, but you do it over and over again, as in the case of training for a marathon, you still develop muscle soreness. That is until your body acclimates to new distance and new intensity.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
-Tight IT bands
-Tight shins (shin splints)
Although we perceive them as TIGHT, they are actually OVERACTIVE, and the proper course to treating an overactive muscle group is to RELAX them, and this is where the foam roller comes in.
Using a foam roller 3-4 times a week, (I recommend always giving yourself a day in between use) will help to break down the tight areas (adhesions) in these overactive muscles that are the result of repetitive stress. And if you are training for a marathon, you are putting your body under repetitive stress. Foam rolling has been a life saver as I have progressed through my long runs.
Shoot me your thoughts and comments.