NOW THAT SOME OF YOU HAVE STARTED TURKEY TROT TRAINING, do you know how to use a foam roller? The very first direction on the WALKER plan, scheduled on September 10, was to learn, and RUNNERS have it listed as a plan activity every Sunday.
To receive the full benefit of foam rolling (decreased delayed onset of muscle soreness and improved range of motion and flexibility) this routine ideally should be performed after every tough workout. Earned Runs hoped that a once a week session would lead to more!
Not yet convinced that getting on the floor and punishing yourself is a good idea? You might have heard the process doesn't feel good while being performed. Consider borrowing this piece of relatively inexpensive equipment and testing it before rejecting it's use during training.
A 2018 VeryWellFit.com article by Elizabeth Quinn describes when and how to use a foam roller. Although demonstration is not provided, the instructions may be helpful to those who like to read about proper technique before attempting a routine. Moves to roll the gluteal and hamstring muscles along the body's posterior, the quadriceps muscles of the anterior thigh, the ilio-tibial band of the lateral thigh, the calf muscles, and the upper back muscles are detailed.
The Earned Runs RESOURCES page has links to videos from other sources.
Previously, Earned Runs posted a piece about foam rolling, and how it may work to increase joint range of motion and flexibility. It has been updated (see below). Perhaps the knowledge that tissue is NOT being damaged by rolling offers more encouragement to try it.
A RUNNERSWORLD.COM ARTICLE, "The Truth About Foam Rolling: It works but not for the reason you think” by Michael Easter for Men’s Health (first appeared there), begins by saying that many “believe that foam rolling works by steamrolling your muscles, breaking up scar tissues and lengthening the muscle tissue.” That caught my attention. Guilty.
Doug Kechijian, a doctor of physical therapy at Peak Performance in New York City was interviewed by the author in this piece. He explains that foam rolling doesn’t physically alter the muscle itself, but rather works by signaling to the nervous system that it’s OK to allow tight muscles to relax.
I did not see a reference provided for this particular view in the scientific literature to support the mechanism that was described. However StrengthandConditioningResearch.com investigated the reasons behind the increased range of motion/joint flexibility associated with self-myofascial release (a term for foam rolling). After a detailed discussion, it concluded that "current best evidence supports a neurophysiological mechanism", which agrees with Kechijian's remarks.
Easter's Men's Health article also mentions studies that demonstrated benefits to foam rolling before or after runs or intense workouts. If you were waiting for convincing reasons to start rolling, Easter provides easy-to-understand information on the topic that might do the trick, regardless of the underlying specific physiological mechanisms.
Those with a desire to read more about how foam rolling/self-myofascial release works, should fully check-out the StrengthandConditioningResearch.com piece. Chris Beardsley apparently was the initial contributor; Andrew Vigotsky is also given credit as a subsequent reviewer and for comments. A 2015 Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies review by Beardsley covered this topic.
A coach once suggested I perform a foam rollout BEFORE running because of my ongoing calf problems. It worked to relieve stiffness all over. Now I am a fan of pre- and, as needed, post-workout rolling for walking and cross training. The most enjoyable portion of the session is the back muscle rollout. It's a wonderful training tool.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
"In neurophysiological models, which are now becoming more widely accepted than the older, mechanical models, myofascial release is thought to stimulate intra-fascial mechanoreceptors, which cause alterations in the afferent input to the central nervous system, leading to a reduction in the activation of specific groups of motor units. In this way, myofascial release does not affect the physical properties of the muscle or fascia but rather sends signals to the brain through afferent nerves, which then signals to the muscle to relax its excessively contracted state. As noted above, this model assumes that muscle tissue is responsible for the tightness and that it is muscle tissue that is being changed by treatment."
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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