Ever since I have started to run again earlier this year, I have been searching for some ways to assist or tackle my IT Band issues which was the main concern for my running. Did all the research online where there were tons of videos on stretching and strengthening the muscles around the IT Band, one particular form of exercise caught my attention. Mainly due to the fact that it can be done at home, very convenient.
Introducing the Foam Rollers from Primero Fitness.
Foam rolling is also known as the self-myofascial release (SMR) technique, is used by many athletes and physiotherapists to help in the recovery of tight and tired muscles. Foam Rollers come in different sizes and densities, and here I am given 2 of the best selling rollers from Primero Fitness for a product review.
On the left (black) is the Fascianator II and on the right (green) is the Centenarian.
The Centenarian is the most versatile roller with an indestructible core, which explains why the company is giving buyers a 100 year warranty. It is suited for all muscle groups, with dimensions of 33cm x 15cm x 15cm.
The Fascianator II is one of the hardest foam rollers available on the market. Used by fitness enthusiasts, crossfitters, bodybuilders, and even national athletes, the Fascianator II is one of the most popular choice for those looking for an intense foam rolling session. Comes with a 6 months warranty, with dimensions of 33cm x 14cm x 14cm.
Foam-rolling is meant to be performed in addition to the usual stretching, warm ups and cool downs. It is not meant to be a replacement totally. I have come to realized that with proper stretching on my IT Band, I can run farther and longer with no pain and lesser tension.
One way is through foam-rolling, which helps to prevent injuries through soft tissue mobilization, reducing muscle tightness and soreness by increasing blood flow and flexibility.
Iliotibial Band (or IT Band) is the band that covers the exterior area of the leg from the hip to just below the knee. A common condition experienced by runners, the Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is a knee injury that results from the inflammation of the IT band due to excessive rubbing against the tibial tubercle. Athletes with ITBS suffer not only pain in the knee while running, but also soreness in the hip area.
With regular stretching using foam rollers, “knots” and “trigger points” (i.e. sensitive spots in muscle) can be targeted and broken up. This is done by applying pressure on target spots of the muscles with our body weight, and relieve the tension felt in the area. The improved blood flow to those problem areas will reduce pain and soreness of the muscles.
To qualify myself, I am not an expert in this field, but like I have said, I have done my fair share of research throughout the past one year.
So with both the Centenarian and the Fascianator II, I have now two different density level of foam rollers which can offer me different level of intensity depending on when and how I use it.
Typically before a race, be it a 10km or 21km or 42km (my aim for next year), I will choose to use the higher density Fascianator II to really break down the “knots” along my IT Band. Of course, for the beginning stages, I have started off with lower intensity foam rollers like the Centenarian, and slowly build up my ability to “tahan” pain.
As you can see from the photos below, the first one shows the easier level of intensity using the Fascianator II. With my left leg on the ground, the body weight on my right IT Band is reduced. As compared to the second photo whereby both my legs are off the floor. In this position, I get the most out of the foam-rolling.
But after a race, like the recent 21km Standard Chartered Marathon, I would choose to use the Centenarian to release the tension in my muscle groups. Reason simply being, my legs are still quite sore from the run and I want to slowly ease the stretch. Again the key is to remember, foam-rolling is to assist to release the tension, not build more tension through pain. No pain no gain may not always be right when it comes to muscle relaxation.
If you are interested in knowing what muscle groups you can work on with the foam rollers, this picture below will give a pretty good idea.
Since my primary concern is my ITBS, I will give a bit more info on this muscle group.
The following are some key considerations, adapted from Therapeutic Associates Inc. (TAI), a physical therapy centre based in the USA:
1. Do not roll over bony areas (like your knee) or areas where you have an open wound or injury (unless instructed by a medical professional).
2. Always roll in line with the muscles and at a slow and steady pace.
3. When you roll over a tight, painful area (muscle knot), slow down the speed and stay on top of this area for about 20-30 seconds or until you feel the area release. *this is the hardest part for me*
4. If it is too painful to stay on top of this area, decrease the force by unweighting the area. When you are finished rolling, make sure that you drink plenty of water, just like you would after a massage.
Hope you have a good day of stretching and enjoy your runs!
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