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  1. #1
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    Foam Rolling for Best Effect

    Hi everyone,
    I have a rehab question. I have an autoimmune disorder (diagnosed as “unspecified”) and am highly prone to bodily inflammation. I have had 2 rotator cuff surgeries (bilateral) and 3 knee surgeries (left only). My connective tissue is tight and lumpy due to adhesions, scar tissue, etc.. I foam roll a lot to get rid of lumps in the muscle that are in my calves, quadriceps, Illiotibial band, gluteus, piriformis, upper back, etc. I also do this to remove tightness in the hamstrings. I have been doing so for years on the advice of multiple physical therapists. This is all pretty effective at managing the bumps and keeping joint pain to a minimum. If I engage in commuter biking without using the rollers regularly, the bumps and lumps return.

    I would like some recommendations on the following:
    -Is it best to roll before strength training or after? (I have been told both)
    -Is it worthwhile to engage in preventive rolling? I.e., suppose my calves are loose today but I know they will get tight if I strength train for a week without rolling. Should I engage in rolling or wait for cramps and knots to develop?
    -Should I only invest time in rolling areas that are already painful? (I am trying to find ways to cut down rolling because this activity has become the longest part of my exercise routine and I do not want to generate extra inflammation).
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Member slowpedaller's Avatar
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    I'm not an expert, but spend my share of time at the physical therapist's. I know I routinely hear them tell me and others to go by how it feels, and roll it when it feels like it needs it, you can skip an area when it's feeling all right.

    I recently got an extra-firm rumble roller after using it there, rather than the regular foam roller I had. Not sure if you have tried those, but they seem more effective, and cut down on time. Extra-painful when it's bad, though.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bmontgomery87's Avatar
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    Roll the problem areas before strength training. Typically my low back, IT band, and hamstrings. I can't get the most out of my squats and deadlifts if the mobility isn't there.
    You can also do some more rolling after. If I'm in a time pinch I'll even foam roll between sets.

    As far as rolling what hurts vs being proactive, I say if you have the time then go ahead and roll everything. Especially since it seems to be a major problem for you. If you're short on time, at least roll out the problem areas.

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    Hi bmontgomery87 and slowpedaller,
    Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. I will add a quick tip of my own. To increase the intensity of your rolling, instead of rolling on foam, roll on a PVC pipe of 4-8" diameter. PVC is what lies inside the foam covering. I found this more effective than using the harder versions of foam rollers or the rumble roller.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bmontgomery87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BROOKLINEBIKER View Post
    Hi bmontgomery87 and slowpedaller,
    Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. I will add a quick tip of my own. To increase the intensity of your rolling, instead of rolling on foam, roll on a PVC pipe of 4-8" diameter. PVC is what lies inside the foam covering. I found this more effective than using the harder versions of foam rollers or the rumble roller.

    ditto.
    I have a foam roller and a 4" PVC pipe for when I really need to get some knots out.

    For quads, I've also taken one end of an olympic barbell, sat on the ground, and just laid the end across my leg, then rolled the bar back and forth. It's incredibly painful but it's great for working on hard to reach areas.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BROOKLINEBIKER View Post
    Hi everyone,
    I have a rehab question. I have an autoimmune disorder (diagnosed as “unspecified”) and am highly prone to bodily inflammation. I have had 2 rotator cuff surgeries (bilateral) and 3 knee surgeries (left only). My connective tissue is tight and lumpy due to adhesions, scar tissue, etc.. I foam roll a lot to get rid of lumps in the muscle that are in my calves, quadriceps, Illiotibial band, gluteus, piriformis, upper back, etc. I also do this to remove tightness in the hamstrings. I have been doing so for years on the advice of multiple physical therapists. This is all pretty effective at managing the bumps and keeping joint pain to a minimum. If I engage in commuter biking without using the rollers regularly, the bumps and lumps return.

    I would like some recommendations on the following:
    -Is it best to roll before strength training or after? (I have been told both)
    -Is it worthwhile to engage in preventive rolling? I.e., suppose my calves are loose today but I know they will get tight if I strength train for a week without rolling. Should I engage in rolling or wait for cramps and knots to develop?
    -Should I only invest time in rolling areas that are already painful? (I am trying to find ways to cut down rolling because this activity has become the longest part of my exercise routine and I do not want to generate extra inflammation).
    Thanks!
    You can do both before and after. I would do it all if you have time if not just the problem areas.
    As far as going to the real hard rollers be careful just because you can go deeper donesn't allways mean you should.
    A good rolling session should/can only take about 10-20min not sure what you're doing that it takes that long
    Coach TJ Cormier NSCA-CPT/USAC Level1 Coach

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmontgomery87 View Post
    ditto.
    I have a foam roller and a 4" PVC pipe for when I really need to get some knots out.

    For quads, I've also taken one end of an olympic barbell, sat on the ground, and just laid the end across my leg, then rolled the bar back and forth. It's incredibly painful but it's great for working on hard to reach areas.
    Hi bmontgomery87,
    Wow using a barbell is an interesting approach. I do not have a barbell for my home gym but reading what you do makes me want to try doing that. I am trying to think of ways I might duplicate what you do working out at home on the cheap in a small space. Do you have any recommendations?
    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Senior Member bmontgomery87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BROOKLINEBIKER View Post
    Hi bmontgomery87,
    Wow using a barbell is an interesting approach. I do not have a barbell for my home gym but reading what you do makes me want to try doing that. I am trying to think of ways I might duplicate what you do working out at home on the cheap in a small space. Do you have any recommendations?
    Thanks!
    You could try a rolling pin with a lot of pressure.
    I've seen a few youtube vids of powerlifters using them to get areas that would be difficult with a foam roller. I'm pretty sure i saw them getting their upper traps by having someone else do the rolling.
    I haven't tried it yet, might be worth a shot.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmontgomery87 View Post
    You could try a rolling pin with a lot of pressure.
    I've seen a few youtube vids of powerlifters using them to get areas that would be difficult with a foam roller. I'm pretty sure i saw them getting their upper traps by having someone else do the rolling.
    I haven't tried it yet, might be worth a shot.
    Hi bmontgomery87,
    Thanks for another tip. I will keep an eye out for rolling pins at my local retailers.

  10. #10
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    been using a lacrosse ball with good results. was recommended by my physical therapist. he also recommended a figure 8 ball, 2 balls joined together. you place the fig. 8 ball along different spots of the spine and lay on top of it, moving your arms up and down slowly and side to side.

  11. #11
    Senior Member bmontgomery87's Avatar
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    ^^That also works really well.

    I use a lax ball for my piriformis and my glutes.

  12. #12
    Senior Member hermanchauw's Avatar
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    -Is it best to roll before strength training or after? (I have been told both)
    Both are better.

    Is it worthwhile to engage in preventive rolling? I.e., suppose my calves are loose today but I know they will get tight if I strength train for a week without rolling. Should I engage in rolling or wait for cramps and knots to develop?
    Preventive.

    Should I only invest time in rolling areas that are already painful? (I am trying to find ways to cut down rolling because this activity has become the longest part of my exercise routine and I do not want to generate extra inflammation).
    No. Do the whole body. The whole body is connected. Compressive struts in a sea of continuous tension (tensegrity). Check out Anatomy Trains / Thomas Myers.

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