With current courses drawing to a close, it's time to reflect on progress made over the past few weeks. I hope attending classes has given everyone a much welcomed kick-start in becoming more active and achieving health and fitness goals. I didn't want to finish the course without the opportunity to introduce the Foam Roller to my regular classes, so this week has included a lot of low-level stability work by incorporating the roller into the some of the basic exercises. I think you'll agree that Toe Taps are taken to a whole new level! I do also so enjoy Spine Curls with Feet on the roller - get that butt working! The next course will include a Foam Roller class too, for anyone that missed out!
In my last post I mentioned using the roller for myofascial release work, or self-massage. This has less to do with Pilates, but as a teacher with a bias towards recreational sports, I love to use and talk about it! Now there's no real scientific evidence that using a roller to release tight muscles or trigger points (knots) really works, but from personal experience (I tore my hamstring a few months ago playing silly party games!), daily use made a real difference to me, when nothing else was helping.
The aim is to use the roller (or a tennis ball or even a golf ball if you're tough enough!) to apply pressure to the muscle, in a slow, deliberate rolling motion in order to restore post-workout muscles to their original state; supple, tender, elastic (think about how you might bash a steak to tenderise it!) and ready to perform at a moments notice. The more it hurts the more you probably need it! With the roller you might have to contort yourself into a few strange positions to reach the part you want to. Now I'm not a massive fan of home-made exercise videos with step-by-step guides on what to do, for fear of promoting bad practice by the reader, but feel free to do a google browse (type in Foam Roller Exercises) for some exercises to try yourself. Reputable sites to try are running publications like Runners World. Just ensure you are rolling muscles and NOT over joints e.g the knee joint if you are rolling your hamstrings.
I use a high density EPP Foam Roller from Fitness Mad. It's 90cm long so good for Pilates and massage, but if you're only going to use it for the latter, you can get shorter rollers, and even versions with knobbles on which are amazing! (if you like that kind of thing). I do recall a teacher of mine telling me about a chrome roller (that's not a typo!) with a casing that goes into the freezer...hmmm..!!
One of my personal favourite positions is pictured here. This targets the ITB (not a muscle in itself) and the muscles that feed into the ITB, Gluteus Maximus (the buttock muscle) and the Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL). As a keen runner this is a must-do, as it can help to keep knees functional for longer! Again do a google search if you want to know how to do this.
If this interests you but you would really prefer some hands-on guidance, try my next Foam Roller Workshop - we cover both Pilates and a little Self-Massage. Just subscribe to my newsletter and you'll be informed of the next 2015 date!