The market place is continually flooded with gimmicks and devices to help you be fitter, stronger, and healthier. They claim by using their product you’ll get this incredibly strong, lean, and well muscled body. The majority of them do nothing more for you than what regular exercise, diet, etc can do for you, and many of them don’t even do that. A big key to their effectiveness is you actually have to work hard and eat right, which is not something they advertise. But, if they get you to actually work out, that is there one true benefit.
As an athletic trainer I try to keep an eye out for all of these new products, because I continually have athletes, friends and family asking me about them. Occasionally there is even one that actually is of benefit, and I make use of it with my athletes. A couple of years ago one such product started to catch my attention. I was skeptical at first, but more I heard, the more I was intrigued and I finally tried it first on myself, and then on my athletes and have had great success with it. Many of you may be familiar with it, but I still find quite a few who have not heard of or tried foam rollers yet, so feel it is worth writing about.
Nothing can replace a good sports massage for breaking up adhesions, and helping tight, sore muscles, but a foam roller can be a good stand in. As an athletic trainer working with high school athletes, the ratio of athletes to athletic trainers, and the amount of time that I have the athletes to work with is prohibitive of my doing as much hands on work as I would prefer, and is often necessary. I do as much as possible, and make what adjustments I can, but massage is not something I really have time to do.
In the past I would use massage for only some of the worst problems, and rely on heat and stretching for most of the others. However, once I found out about foam rollers and started incorporating them regularly with my athletes that were suffering from muscle soreness, tightness, and minor strains, the rehab times shortened and outcomes improved tremendously. My athletes not only were getting better faster, but I started having them use foam rollers as preventive and I’ve been seeing fewer muscle injuries as a result.
You can find foam rollers just about anywhere that sells sporting goods, usually in same area as aerobic and general fitness items. They are inexpensive, and when coupled with a good stretching program as part of a proper warm up and cool down they are a great tool for helping to avoid injury. If you’re an athlete with tight or sore muscles they are worth checking out.
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