Sunday, February 10, 2008

Foam Roller and Prehab

So I ordered a foam roller about two weeks ago (3 foot long, 6 inch diameter). For a few years now, I have had flare ups of chronic pain in my forearms which in recent weeks/months have been making my kettlebell training difficult in some respects. I have recently started to try to minimize performing cleans, the pain intensifies when I try to perform heavy presses, I have had to totally remove pullups from my sessions - it's definitely made an impact.

After hearing so many good things about the foam rollers and given their minimal cost I ponied up and ordered one from Perform Better. Now not having any prior experience with a foam roller, I expected a roller made of something similar in nature to "foam". What to my surprise when I opened the box to find it more similar to hard styro-foam! My first thought was "and people roll on this?!?!?!"

Along with the roller came a printout explaining with photos some basic roller myofascial release techniques. No problem, let's give it a go. To my surprise (again) the roller felt pretty good on my muscles. I worked through the glute, hamstrings and calf positions. No pain, just nice massage feeling. Then I flipped over, rolled up and down the centerline of the quads - still felt good. Until I noticed a slight sharpness on the outer part of the quad just above the knee. Ahhhhhhh..... now that feels good! Yeap, on both legs, outer quad, just above the knee. It's hard to explain the feeling. I don't qualify it as pain. It's sharp, but soothing at the same time. And personally, I find it enjoyable. Others might not.

I then experimented with it along my lower back up until I hit the shoulder blades. Aside from hearing some minor cracking along the way, not bad.

Then it was on to trying to get into a good position to roll this thing up and down my forearms... With my arm positioned down my centerline and my body on top, I rolled up and down allowing my bicep and forearm to take the weight. With some adjusting of my hand/wrist position I was able to hit different areas of the forearm and bicep. Yeap, these definitely needed to be massaged. I hadn't realized it until now, that the very top of my biceps are tight as well.

All in all, I think this roller was a good investment. I just need to use it frequently along with some other prehab techniques to hopefully alleviate some of this pain. My biggest fear is that I will have to restrict more movements such as snatches, which could be a problem if I still want to attend and pass the RKC cert in the Fall.

In addition to the roller, I have now started to ice my forearms as often as possible, for short intervals at a time. I continue to stretch out both the flexors and extensors regularly. Problem here is, I think they are pretty loose already. I've always had good flexibility, so I don't know how helpful this will be. I have also started to incorporate some extensor exercises to strengthen these muscles, assuming there's an imbalance here which is the cause of the pain. Specifically, I'm using a wrist roller, hanging a small weight from a rope and rolling it upward and downward using just the extensors, also using the IronMind colored/graduated rubber bands (knowing what I know now, I would have gone to the supermarket and picked up a bag of assorted size rubber bands and saved a few bucks). Also today, I started practicing some handstands to stretch out the flexors. Maybe soon, I'll start trying to handstand pushups, but not right away. (This technique I picked up from reading Tim Anderson's blog last night. Thanks Tim.)

So that's where I'm at. It seems like it's going to be trial & error for a while until I start to see some improvement. I suppose I'll have to focus on my Swings for the time being and try to Grease The Groove with minimal Snatches and Cleans. I have time until the Fall, so now is the time to train smart!

Oh, one other thing... the one problem I have with the foam roller is that it isn't able to hit my upper back between my shoulder blades where most of my back spasms hit me (another old recurring injury). I see there are similar balls that are supposed to be used specifically for this area. Anyone have any experience/success with these?


Aaron Friday said...

Howie, the 6" myofascial release ball from Perform Better works a lot better at targeting those areas than the roller.

Light rolling, followed by Z-health, followed by Taiji or meditation is a very good combination.

Howie Brewer said...

Cool. I guess I'll be placing another order. I'll be sure to keep you (everyone) abreast of my progress. Thanks.