Foam what? I’m sure most of you have no idea what I’m talking about, but everyone should. Ever had a massage? I mean a good, deep tissue massage? It hurts like mad while it’s being done, you’ll find tight and knotted muscles you didn’t know you had, but when you are done, don’t you feel so much better? Possibly a bit sore the next day, but much looser, and if you got them frequently, you would probably move a lot more freely, your clothes might fit a little looser due to less knotting of the muscles and water retention and as an added bonus you would probably sleep a lot better. So why don’t we get massages more often? Well, cost can be an issue as can having oil/lotion worked into your hair. We want these benefits….but what do we do?
My friends, let me introduce you to the foam roller; the poor man’s massage. It comes in varying sizes and lengths but in general, it’s about 36 inches long, looks like a pool noodle but is as hard as a brick. Roll yourself strategically back and forth over this device and when you are done screaming in pain (especially over the IT band and calves) you will be surprised how much better you feel.
In athletic work, this helps muscles repair, facilitates stretching, promotes joint flexibility and stimulates blood flow/toxin flushing. In musicians, all of the above are just as true. With musicians, a tennis ball may be more of your friend, as it is easier to access your upper body muscles. Please see the attached videos and articles for descriptions. Rolling out the lats, upper back and thoraic attention will help a lot with musicians, because we tend to slouch over to our instruments and this can roll out our weak/tight muscles.
A note to those who have either low muscle density, are out-of-shape or overweight: you should know that the arms are heavily involved in foam rolling as they support your body weight while you are rolling. You should also know that foam rolling can be painful and you should be able to distinguish the difference between pain and injury. If you are not sure, go get a deep tissue massage with trigger point therapy and that will give you a better idea of what to expect. Foam rolling should never cause bruising.
Other articles you might want to investigate:
Where to buy? Check your local sports store like Sports Authority Target and if you can’t find it there, you can find it at Amazon and performbetter.com (who usually has great deals by the way!).