I LOVE my foam roller...
actually rollers. I think I have 4 of
them now, plus a few massage balls and a massage
stick. I have a few in my gym, one in my
office, and one in the living room. When it
comes to massages, I like to really feel it and
using the foam rollers allows me to adjust the
pressure that I am working through my muscles as
well as to have direct control for specifically
targeting any trouble spots.
Foam rollers offer many
of the same benefits as a sports massage, without
the big price tag (most of mine were about $20 from
the local sporting goods store). The foam roller not only
stretches muscles and tendons but it also breaks
down soft tissue
adhesions and scar tissue. By using your own
body weight and a cylindrical foam roller you can
perform a self-massage or myofascial release, break
up trigger points, and soothe tight fascia while
increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft
The superficial fascia
is a soft connective tissue located just below the
skin. It wraps and connects the muscles, bones,
nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together,
muscle and fascia make up what is called the
myofascia system. For various reasons including
disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries, the
fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become
stuck together. This is called an adhesion and it
results in restricted muscle movement. It also
causes pain, soreness and reduced
flexibility or range of motion.
Myofascial release is a
body work technique in which a practitioner uses
gentle, sustained pressure on the soft tissues while
applying traction to the fascia. This technique
results in softening and lengthening (release) of
the fascia and breaking down scar tissue or
adhesions between skin, muscles and bones.
has also been shown to relieve various muscle and
joint pains such as
IT band syndrome and
shin splints as well as improving
flexibility and range of motion. Bodybuilders
also use myofascial release to help build bigger
muscles. Fascia is important for holding your
muscles in their proper place in your body.
But your fascia may also be holding back your muscle
growth. Think for a moment about your muscles. You
train them and feed them properly. They want to grow
and will grow but something is holding them back.
They have no room to grow! Because fascia is
so tough, it doesn't allow the muscle room to
expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a
small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won't
change regardless of how hard you train or how well
you eat because the connective tissue around your
muscles is constricting the muscles within.
If bodybuilding is
your goal, you'll want to also stretch at the
appropriate time. The key to effective fascial
stretching is the pump. The best time to stretch to expand the
bags that are holding in your muscles is when your muscles are
pumped up full of blood. When your muscles are fully
pumped up, they are pressing against the fascia. By stretching
hard at that time, you increase that pressure on the fascia
greatly, which can lead to expansion of the fascia.
Foam rollers are
inexpensive and with a bit of experimentation you
can target just about any muscle group. Using a foam roller
is simple, but working some areas may take a bit of
practice and some body contortion. You start by
finding a relatively open area with some floor
space. Position your body with the area you want to
work on top of the foam roller. Your body weight
creates the pressure that massages and releases
tight spots in the fascia. You control the pressure
by applying more or less body weight on the foam
roller and using your hands and feet to offset your
weight as needed. It's helpful to try a variety of
positions and see what works best for you.
Tips for Using a
- Always check with
your doctor before using a foam roller for
- Perform foam
roller sessions when your muscles are warm or
after a workout.
- Position the
roller under the soft tissue area you want to
release or loosen.
- Gently roll your
body weight back and forth across the roller while
targeting the affected muscle.
- Move slowly and
work from the center of the body out toward your
- If you find a
particularly painful area (trigger point), hold
that position until the area softens.
- Focus on areas
that are tight or have reduced range of motion.
- Roll over each
area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect
some discomfort. It may feel very tender or
bruised at first.
- Stay on soft
tissue and avoid rolling directly over bone or
- Keep your first
few foam roller sessions short. About 15 minutes
is all you need.
- Rest a day between
sessions when you start.
- Drink plenty of
water after a session, just as you would after a
- After a few weeks
you can increase your session time and frequency
if you choose.
- Do not use a foam
roller without your physician's approval if your
heart or vascular illness or a
chronic pain condition.
Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!
I decided to stick with the slider
exercise for this month again. Why? Because they
are so cheap and effective to carry around. Like I said
last month, a 4-pack of super-sliders will run you about $10,
and you really only need 2 of them. They are somewhat
small and flat and certainly easy enough to throw in your
suitcase for some of those tricky exercises. Take this
exercise in particular... It's difficult to really target your
hamstrings without some type of equipment. A simple pair
of these furniture sliders provide you with a simple way to
blast your hamstrings with this bodyweight exercise.
Target: legs and butt
(hamstrings, gluteus maximus)
Description: Start on
your back with your arms at your sides and your heels on a
pair of furniture sliders. Draw your heels towards your
butt, but try to raise your butt up so that there is a
straight line from your knees to your hips to your shoulders.
Maintain a steady pace up and down and try to limit the
contact of your butt with the ground until you are finished
with your desired repetitions.
First a bit of
history... For centuries, church bells wore rung
through the laborious act of pulling levers, which
were strung through wheels and attached to the
bells. The largest bells weighed as much as
three tons, requiring a team of qualified men
possessing great strength, skill and coordination to
achieve the proper sound. In an effort to
perfect their technique, bell-ringers would practice
with silent, non-clapper bells called 'dumb-bells'.
Athletes then took advantage of the concept that
bells came in different weights and sizes,
ingeniously attaching two small bells to the ends of
a wooden or metal bar (barbell) or utilizing the
detached clapper as a tool to increase muscle size
and strength. As athletes began to create
purpose-built equipment, the name 'dumbbell'
I go through about a gallon of
orange juice per week... anybody need any dumbbells?
I like the sturdy Tropicana one gallon jugs.
One of these jugs full of water is about 8 lbs.
Fill it with sand and it's about 13 lbs. You
can play around with different types of filler like
nuts and bolts or any combination of different
There are countless
exercises that you can perform with these
jug-dumbbells. Hammer curls, tricep
extensions, lateral raises, etc... Because of the
position of the handle, you could even mess around
with some of the standard kettlebell swings,
windmills and related kettlebell exercises,
providing that the angle of the handle doesn't put
undo pressure on your wrists.
Body Sculpting with Kettlebells for Women
Maybe a little... but hey, I've been overweight and
out of shape in the past, and I DIDN'T LIKE IT ONE
BIT! So, with a week long vacation out in
Reno, NV... you know I had to do something! So
I figured I'd take up some space in my newsletter
this month and let you know about the workout that I
put together with limited resources available.
I can't always tell if
I'm going to have access to a bike, treadmill,
elliptical or even a decent place to run. I
also don't want to be too fanatical about it, so I
try to limit the amount of time that I'm spending
while still accomplishing my main goals. So
for total body resistance training, while still
getting my cardio in I typically opt for a mixed
interval circuit to get the job done. Although
I'm a big fan of
can't always count on having access to a sturdy set
unless I'm staying in a hotel. For this reason
I'll pack my trusty jump rope in my bag.
So for a solid 30 minute
cardio interval circuit, I'll hit the rope for a
minute, do a burpee pyramid, then 30 seconds rest,
another minute on the rope, pushups, 30 seconds
rest, rope, split squats, rest, rope, crunches,
rest, rope, inverted rows, rest, etc... This kind of
interval can certainly crank up your heartrate, so
make sure that you choose adequate rest periods,
exercises, and interval durations that work for you.
When choosing your exercises make sure that you have
a plan for the week. It's best to have 48
hours between the training of each muscle group.
If you do the circuit every day, you can split upper
body and lower body on different days. For
every other day, you can mix in all body parts in
I have to tell you,
although I try to be good with my food choices, I'm
no saint :) Vacation food and drink is tough
to resist and I know in advance that I'm going to
indulge. No reason to stop burning calories at
a point when you're consuming all the junk!
You've worked too hard to make a difference to take
a few steps back!
It's Go Time!
Oh man... is
it really August already? The final hoorah of the
summer? If you kept busy this summer, I'm sure that
you're as surprised as me. But hey, it's not over yet.
Get up, get out, and do something!
I don't feel
too bad about my summer so far. I've done 2
5K mud runs, have another one in
October, and my annual
bike ride at the end of September. The weekend
Warrior Workout Club has had a successful following
too. I'm good with that, although I'd do more if I had the time! How
about you? There's still time... make a mark on your
summer! Guaranteed you can find something that fits your
fitness level... or better yet, something that gives you a
reason to strive for a certain fitness level! There are
plenty of charity walk/runs, bike rides, triathlons, whatever.
Find one that works for you and go do it... and bring a few
friends and/or family members... the good thing about fitness
is that it can be contagious
Have a great rest of the summer
prior issues of this eNewsletter, to subscribe, or
unsubscribe, please visit the following
"The only one thing I can
change is myself, but sometimes that makes all of the
youtube of the month -->
foam roller exercises
collection of foam roller stretches for injury prevention