Today I want to talk about (part of) why I make my clients sit on foam rollers, hard lacrosse balls/tennis balls/softballs and use ViPRs - all in one succinct-ish post.
The thing they all have in common? Fascia
Think about when you are pulling apart a chicken. Fascia is the thin, white layer that surrounds all of the meat. Fascia, like it is in chickens or any other animal, is one massive 'organ' of connective tissue that surrounds your entire musculature. It has this beautiful tendency to continuously regenerate and connect things...even if those things shouldn't be connected.
My favorite example of a pathology related to this is frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder is characterized by a stiffening of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. There is no actual problem with the muscles surrounding the shoulder, it just gets 'stuck' when you try to, for example, move your hands overhead into an overhead squat position. This is often extremely painful and uncomfortable.
Anyway, how do you fix it?
Well, the best thing to do is prevent it. How?
I don't know how often I have to explain to people that the best medicine for most movement-related issues is to NOT STOP MOVING. The body is designed to move, and keep moving. Unfortunately for those that choose to slow down or stop, the body responds in a way that only makes it harder to move well.
Side note reminiscent of past posts and why breaking down fascia is so important: if you can't reach a certain minimum ROM at every joint, then mobility NEEDS to become a priority. Maximum mobility => Maximum functionality => Maximum safe, allowable movements => Maximum possible energy output => Maximum possible results.
Due to the way our society works, however, the buildup of fascia that does not move well has become increasingly more prominent. There are ways to fight the locking down of your musculature!
Break down the fascia surrounding the joint systematically, whilst strengthening the malleability and flexibility of the fascia as new ranges of motion (ROM) are achieved.
To break it down, we use hard things; everything from foam rollers to golf balls. So, yes, this is why it is not the most comfortable thing in the world. GENERALLY, the harder the more effective. However, tolerance to this can build over time, so start out with soft stuff (foam rollers, tennis balls) and transition to the more intense stuff (Grid rollers and LAX balls) as you get used them. Also, important to consider, is that there are major nerves below the skin. Always make sure you are not putting so much pressure anywhere that causes a shooting pain anywhere, or numbness for that matter.
To make fascia more malleable and tensile, we do functional movements that require strength at end-ROM. For example, holding a weight far away from your body while doing a lunge, is a great way to STRETCH that fascia WHILE making it more tensile. What better equipment to do this with than...ViPRs! They were designed to make it easier to hold weights at end-ROM (handles and holes all over the weighted tube).
Covered a lot in less than a page! Please don't hesitate to have others sign up for the blog if you think they might find some of these topics valuable or ask questions by clicking on the post title.
"Only YOU can prevent BAD health and fitness information from becoming the industry standard!"
-Smokey the Bear