Rehab 101: Rolling, Smashing and Stretching- An Introduction
Why is everyone laying on a foam roller?
Whatever happened to stretching?
What about corrective exercise?
Don’t even know what I am talking about?
Let’s get all this cleared up for you because honestly, I think a lot of people who practice rolling and smashing don’t know why they do it.
And if you aren’t doing it, maybe you should.
But for both of our sakes, do it right.
Fact 1: You are like an onion. You have layers.
I always thought anatomy was kind of gross. Beautiful in the way the body is designed but not particularly appealing to look at. So bear with me.
Looking at the diagram you should notice 2 things.
- You have layers of tissue. Skin, fascia, muscle, fat etc…that move independently of each other.
- You have layers of muscles laying over each other.
The fascia is like the casing on a sausage. It provides protection and keeps everything tightly wrapped.
In a perfect world all these surfaces slide without causing pain. This translates to flexibility, balance and pain-free movement.
Fact 2: You will do something in your life to screw this up.
I hate to be the one to break the bad news but the perfect flexibility a baby has or you may even have had as a kid is doomed.
And that is because our modern way of life is geared towards comfort and lack of movement.
- We lie in bed
- Sit driving to work
- Sit at work
- Sit driving home from work
- Sit eating dinner.
- Sit or recline watching TV
- Lie in bed
That is a lot of non-moving for a body that is at it’s best when in motion.
So what happens when you live this lifestyle?
- Muscles atrophy from lack of use.
- The front part of your body is continually contracted making the muscles tight and short. This puts strain on all the posterior muscle groups creating an imbalance.
- You lose strength and flexibility in your posterior chain (back, butt, hamstrings,calves).
This creates a situation where most clients who come to me have some sort of back, shoulder and knee pain.
The crazy part of this is that the pain has nothing to do with the back, shoulder, neck or knee.
Fact 3: You weren’t born with short muscles or one leg shorter than the other.
You have problem areas that are artificially shortening your muscles and most likely pulling on the pelvis to create the illusion of one leg being shorter than the other.
Chiropractors and orthotic salesmen make a lot of money off of this. And in truth, maybe, once in a great while, someone is born with a limb obviously longer/shorter than the other.
But think about this, you were just fine all your life. Now all of a sudden one leg is longer? Really? To me, this is one of the biggest con jobs people fall for.
I have found is that the issue can be traced to tight muscles pulling on the pelvis. Either the forces tilt your pelvis forward (anterior tilt) or one side pulls more than the other. In either case this imbalance leads to back and knee pain.
There are simple exercises I can do to show you how to fix this.
I have fixed the “One leg is longer than the other” syndrome in a matter of minutes. And no, it didn’t involve a chain saw. You guys have sick minds:)
Fact 4: Unglue the muscle/fascia and your pain will go away.
So let’s dig a little deeper here. When I talk about a tight muscle, often it is tight because an area becomes glued to the other surfaces. In my world we call this an adhesion. In your world it is a muscle knot.
So what is a knot? it is an area that either due to atrophy, trauma or imbalance has glued itself to the other layers so the layers can no longer slide. Think of it as a traffic jam. This knot shortens the muscle length meaning it can never fully relax. Your body will also try and compensate so your other side may affected too. Nasty, nasty, nasty.
Here is the important part.
You are more likely to feel the effects of this knot where the muscles attach (joints) than the actual spot itself.
So pain in the front of the knee can be a knot in the quadriceps, not the knee itself.
Pain in the lower back may be a Psoas or hip flexor issue, not the lower back itself.
So to bring this discussion back to where we started….
You want to learn how to roll and smash to discover adhesions.
You want to roll and smash to unglue those surfaces so everything can slide.
Fact 5: You can’t stretch a pre-shortened muscle
This is a crucial piece of information you need to know. I intentionally put this at the bottom of the post to reward anyone who has made it down this far.
Let me put this as plainly as possible. If your muscles are all knotted up all the stretching in the world isn’t going to help you.
Because the problem is not that the muscle isn’t long enough. It is.
The problem is that when you have a spot where layers of muscle, fascia and skin glued together (what you would call a knot), the muscle is over-tired and over-stretched already.
Try this simple test.
Take a rubber band and stretch it as far as you can without breaking it.
Now hold it on one end and hold the other end in the middle. Can you stretch it as far as you could before? Of course not but that it what you are doing when you spend a lot of time trying to stretch a tight muscle.
It is pointless and even potentially harmful.
How my Online training can help you
I am not a doctor and I would never think to diagnose any medical conditions for you.
What I can tell you from experience is that most cases of neck,shoulder,knee, ankle and lower back pain can be helped and even eliminated with the right exercise program.
I have over 250 different exercises and stretches in my exercise library. Sign up and send me and email with an explanation of what is going on.
After I get a good idea of your situation, I can program some workouts into your phone customized to address those concerns.
As your coach, you can email me 24 hours an day with questions.
If you aren’t getting better, you should have a medical professional perform testing, MRI’s and X-Rays.
My philosophy is to avoid shots, surgeries and pain pills as much as possible.
I hate to say it but Doctors don’t always get it right and sometimes they don’t want to get it right.
Am I saying there are Doctors that perform unnecessary operations? Yes.
I have a client who had shoulder pain. The Doctor said, “Well, you are getting old, it is probably arthritis. want some pain pills?”
By rolling the tricep with a foam roller and doing a few simple stretches the pain was eliminated and a full range of motion restored.
So I am not saying I can do this for everyone but I am still surprised how effective foam rolling and smashing can be if you know how to do it.