Foam rollers; Are there benefits to using them?

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Foam rollers; Are there benefits to using them?
Foam rollers are now being used by many athletes prior to workout, and even by some of our patients. The secret to using these is understanding your body better.
The benefit to foam rollers is that you can self apply treatment to an area and improve the flexibility of the myofascia, the connective sheath that surrounds muscles and organs in our body. Newer information has shown it is the myofascia, and not the muscles themselves that controls body movements.
My new book (should be available August 2011 on Amazon) called Cheating Mother Nature, What you need to know to beat chronic pain talks about some of the new information such as Thomas Myers book on Anatomy Trains, and our inherited trait of body style.
Because of the way we are built, our body's myofascia will mold according to the forces placed upon it and many of us are built asymmetrically. This is the recipe for chronic pain, tight legs, hip problems, disc problems, back problems and many neck, shoulder (rotator cuff) and even headache issues.
Unfortunately, most doctors are trained to lable the condition, rather than understand why you are in pain. This is the fault of the educational system that teaches conditions and then shows you what therapy that should work (it often does not and results in other consequences years later).
Our patients know that myofascial release treatment (Active Release Techniques is a well known style of this as is Rolfing) when applied with the right understanding of function is quite helpful in improving someones skeletal health and getting them out of pain. From the chiropractors standpoint, manipulation of the spine and extremities is quite important in this process because this further enhances mobility and alignment.
The use of shoe inserts is useful in improving skeletal alignment and should always be a part of any attempt to address the fascial system, since leveling out the pelvis improves fascial and muscular function and the way we walk (See Cheating Mother Nature for details on how this works). This is not dissimmilar to what they do with horses, where they level them out and they have fewer problems and race horses run better.
The foam roller can be used to self apply fascial release. Many trainers are now recommending their clients use the rollers prior to working out because people train better and as a result, they are more satisfied with the process and they experience less pain. Painful conditions in the lower back can be treated in its later stages because any pain process tightens the fascia and the rollers can reduce the pain and improve the way you move.
If you are wondering weather you can use foam rollers in place of a visit with a trained therapist; you may be able to self maintain and manage some problems but you will still require one on one visits since you cannot be objective of what is tight. You do know where it feels tight but someone can have tightness in the shoulder and using the roller on the shoulder blade can exacerbate the problem if the true problem is in the hips (very common).
Recommendation: Purchase a foam roller from the local Target. It is inexpensive, and will likely come with some instruction and even a video. Bring the roller to your doctor and ask him to show you how to apply it to your best advantage. You will be glad you did, because it could eliminate painful mistakes on where to apply this.
If you are having a problem and the foam roller is giving you just temporary relief, call your doctor. There may be something more serious going on.
What do you think? As always, I value your opinion. Please feel free to comment or email us from our web site.