Did you know that in today’s society, nearly everyone is affected by some type of muscle imbalance and/or poor posture? This is in large part due to the advancements in technology. The conveniences of our day have lead to more sedentary lifestyles and the use of more repetitive movements. With long hours in front of computers at office jobs, tedious, specialized work of factories and even the repetitive motions associated with recreational “gamers” can lead to injury, such as low-back and neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and an increase in obesity. Sadly, low-back pain alone affects nearly 80% of all adults, myself included.
It’s becoming more and more recognized that flexibility training is an important tool for preventing and treating a variety of these neuromuscular injuries.
Flexibility is the ability to have full range of motion of a joint. There are several factors that can influence a persons flexibility: genetics, joint structure, connective tissue elasticity, strength of opposing muscle groups, body shape & size, activity level and previous or current injuries.
Our bodies will seek the path of least resistance, so if we have weak abdominals, our back may compensate by dominating and causing the lower back to arch. Which in turn, leads to poor posture (standing funny), which leads to altered movement patterns (walking funny), which will eventually lead to injury (which isn't funny)!
Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) or what normal people refer to as "Foam Rolling"
Today I'm only going to cover a few "Foam Rolling" techniques but look for more stretching techniques in upcoming posts. The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends using a foam roller before static, active and dynamic stretching. Foam rolling consists of using a torture device...ahem...I mean a cylindrical foam device to release knots in muscles throughout the body. There are a variety of densities, diameters, and shapes to choose from to accommodate your specific level of need and comfort. If you've never used a foam roller before you'll want to choose a larger diameter, lower density roller without the protruding nodules to prevent undo discomfort. You can always adjust to a smaller diameter and higher density as you get more familiar with the process.
Valerie was gracious enough to help me make a few videos to demonstrate various foam rolling techniques. I'll apologize in advance for the poor lighting conditions. Check them out below and on our YouTube channel.
These techniques may feel painful at first (I KNOW! OW!!) but with regular practice and use, you will find that you have less knots, more flexibility and a decrease in overall PAIN associated with everyday activities and exercise! It really is a worthwhile tradeoff!! Try out a few of the techniques and let us know what you think.