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Why Do People Foam Roll Anyway?


I’ve been experiencing some pain in my right knee lately. It happens sporadically, sometimes when I’m exercising and sometimes when I’m doing other daily activities like walking up or down a flight of stairs. I asked my personal trainer, Stephanie Pipia, for advice on how to handle this as far as preventing injury and how it may impact my exercise regimen.

Stephanie said running tends to be hard on the joints because it is a repetitive sport. This means that things get tight from overuse and problems can occur. Tight muscles, or knots, can pull on joints, causing tension and soreness. Releasing pressure from the knots will help keep muscles long so this doesn’t happen. This is why Stephanie says it’s important to cross-train and foam roll to reduce injury. 

Foam rolling is used for myofacial release. In layman’s terms, basically it’s a massage. Just as a massage therapist works to manually remove knots with their fingers, the foam roller does the same thing. Stephanie notes that while nothing is better than the human touch for true myofacial techniques, the foam roller works pretty effectively and is a whole lot cheaper, which is how it earned it’s name “poor man’s massage.” 

Now I make it a point to use the foam roller at the gym a few times every week to strengthen my muscles and prevent future knee injury. I’m also using the elliptical and Arc Trainer machines for cardio instead of running on the treadmill when pain in my knee flares up so I don’t further strain it.

What do you do to stay on track when aches and pains get in the way of your usual fitness routine? Please share in the comments below.

Our 2012 Weight Loss Diary writer, Yasmin, is a 33-year-old web content producer who is looking to get healthy and love her body! Follow along on her year-long weight loss journey!

Who’s helping Yasmin? Tiara Coaching Life coach Alison Miller, Ph.D, nutritionist Keri Gans, R.D, and Equinox personal trainer Stephanie Pipia.


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