A new take on the foam roller

Being injured is everyone’s worst nightmare and sadly, I consider myself to be something of an expert on the matter. Many of my injuries stem from the fact that I over pronate, more so on the left foot than the right. This seemingly small problem has led to hours and hours of physio and years of rehab/resting/recovering, I was just glad I had private healthcare (I no longer have healthcare, I claimed on it several times and couldn’t afford the renewal price). To cut a long story short I suffer from ITB syndrome and  adverse neural tension. It took 18 months of stretching, gait analysis, expensive trainers and gradually building up the exercise to get myself to being able to run for over an hour at a time.

One of the things that I found crucial to my rehab and recovery was a foam roller. I bought it from an online physio store and it was quite possibly the best £20 I’ve ever spent. I would roll the outside of my left thigh on it starting at the outside of the knee and moving gradually up to the hip, maintaining the pressure at certain ‘sore’ spots. This is a painful process but I’ve learnt that many things in rehab are painful: the worst pain causes me not to scream and shout but to go white and feel sick. My roller was brilliant but it has lost it’s shape in time and the ones in the gym see much use and just don’t quite cut it. So when buying some new running shoes the other day I came across a new type of foam roller: my eyes lit up, I fondled it, I caressed it, I simply had to have it even at the princely sum of £44.99. May I introduce you to The Grid.

It’s basically a tough, hollow plastic tube covered in EVA foam – it’s light, about the length of my forearm and has different types of bumps in the foam. The marketing says that some of the bumps feel like the palms of hands, some like thumbs and others like fingers. I’m not too sure about that, to me every bit of it just hurt. And boy did it hurt, more than my old roller – much, much more. It is genuinely the most effective foam roller I have ever used and I shall be scheduling in more intimate session with The Grid after every run.

Regular use of The Grid should help to keep my ITB from causing me any problems during my training for a half marathon. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who suffers from ITB problems.

10 thoughts on “A new take on the foam roller

  1. Ian Willows

    Hi, I am a strength & conditioning coach and have seen ‘The Grid’ foam roller but not had any reports as yet. I may well purchase one and test it. I couldn’t help to leave you a comment regarding the ITB syndrome. It sounds like you have been through a bad dose of injury and having to use therapists. Do you use the foam roller on the TFL and glutes as well as the ITB? These structures along with the ITB are connected via fascia. Foam rolling the ITB can be very painful and is not necessary so frequently. One of the most important things after foam rolling is to stretch and activate muscles that provide stability to the joint. I’m sure you already strengthen the glutes alongside foam rolling? According to Mike Boyle he states that many knee injuries are a result of poor glute function. Interesting to know what you have been doing.

    1. manchesterwelsh Post author

      Hi, thanks so much for reading my blog and leaving a comment – it’s good to get some feedback from someone who knows what they’re talking about. I don’t strengthen my glutes, I regularly stretch piriformis and that in combination with the foam roller has definitely helped ease my symptoms. My ITBS manifests itself at the hip insert and not the knee so I don’t exhibit your traditional ‘runners knee’ type problems.

      1. Ian Willows

        That is great you stretch your piriformis. I read briefly that you are a runner too. I would suggest stretching your quads, adductors and hamstrings. However, when it comes to stretching some muscle groups can be more mobile than others and this can cause problems. It is then beneficial to stretch the muscle group that is the least mobile or to put it another way ‘stretch the one’s you don’t like doing’ if you know what i mean. When you say hip insert do you mean in the groin or at the top of your thigh/outside front hip? I can forward some links via youtube/blogs with some glute strengthening exercises i use with my athletes?

        1. manchesterwelsh Post author

          My ITB problems are indeed top and outside of the thigh and around the greater trochanter area, i’ve never experienced the usual pain on the outside of the knee however a physio can certainly find the sore spot with a bout of frictions!
          Please do forward me some links/blogs – staying injury free is really important to me.

          1. Ian Willows

            Here are some links to Youtube. Start with these exercises. I would recommend performing them everyday and/or after you have done myofascial release and static stretching.

            This is a glute medius exercise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiqvDV8pzRk
            This is a progression: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6YpE-3ZEJE&feature=related

            This is a glute max exercise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FCsOZhZ5aE
            Here is another glute max exercise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zni_6hzqkEE

            The most common areas to activate are the scap stabilisers, trunk stabilisers and hip stabilisers. Many movement dysfunctions can be from poor stabiliser strength or activation. With all clients I always activate/strengthen these areas at every session.

            Once you have mastered these let me know how it goes. I can forward some trunk stability exercises after (this does not involve crunches or sit ups as these can increase risk of injury to your discs in between your vertebrae).
            If you need to ask me something let me know.

            Kind regards,
            Ian Willows

          2. manchesterwelsh Post author

            Thanks for that Ian, have added your blog to my blogroll – hope that’s OK with you. Thanks for the advice – who knew the power of writing a blog!

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