I signed up for the Los Angeles Marathon (my first marathon) this past summer to run for Kiss the Sky to raise awareness for Type 1 Diabetes and funds for the Faustman Lab, which is currently conducting phase 2 human clinical trials in hopes to cure the disease. My sister Kate has Type 1 Diabetes and my friend’s brother Murphy Roberts passed away this summer due to complications from T1D.
In September 2016, I hurt my lower back / sacroiliac ligament(s) in a workout class, and the situation continued to get worse and worse - I couldn’t sit down or touch my toes, let alone run, without bad pain / stiffness in my lower back. I started working with Lauren and JJ in December and told them my goal of running the marathon in the end of March. They were both incredibly supportive and fantastic to work with - pushing me to challenge myself and work smarter. I had to amend my marathon training plan a bit, but they worked with me tirelessly on my leg and glute strength, plyometrics and flexibility - equipping me with tools and exercises to support a more balanced training program for this marathon and future races.
My back didn’t hurt me at all during the marathon, and I beat my goal time, finishing the marathon in 3 hours and 43 minutes. Lauren came to the finish line to cheer me on, and I definitely wouldn’t have made it that far without her!
Some of the goals of using a foam roller during a patient’s rehabilitation include improving performance and flexibility, reducing post exercise soreness, reduce recovery time and help alleviate muscle pain/tightness.
The term used for Foam rolling in physical therapy is “self-myofascial release”. “Fascia” refers to the connective tissue that binds muscles together. By applying pressure in the form of myofascial release using a foam roller, you help improve and guide blood circulation to the region to assist the healing process and reducing muscle tightness.
A recent study in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation found that foam rolling coupled with static stretching could increase range of motion more than stretching alone (study was focused on the hip range of motion). Other studies have found benefits such as “less muscle soreness, better vertical leap and greater flexibility”. It has also been found that foam rolling may activate the central nervous system which registers and reacts to pain. The nervous system also regulates functions such as blood flow and heart rate. Therefore foam rolling is thought to improve arterial flexibility and vascular function.
Other benefits of foam rolling as a form of myofascial release are similar to the benefits of massage therapy such as relaxation of the nervous system through the reduction of stress hormones (i.e. cortisol).
It is suggested to use foam rolling before exercise to work on improving mobility and range of motion and to use the foam roller after exercise in order to help prevent muscle soreness.