When Props Become Dangerous: The Limited Usefulness of a Foam Roller

I recently was forwarded an article on how a foam roller may be hurting your body more than helping it in certain situations, specifically stretching sore IT bands.  The article pointed out that in some situations, the IT band is already overstretched due to the gluts not firing like they should during physical movement. When muscles don’t do their part, others come to the rescue and then those become overstressed. Many people, including me, have a difficult time engaging the glute medius. An example is given in the article to test if this issue applies to you. You’ll be in good company if it does. Glut med weakness is very common and can lead to other issues in the body including an overstretched IT band. The bottom line is that if your IT band is tight or overstretched, stretching it further by using a foam roller can really cause harm. As with all props, knowing how to effectively use them and in what movements is key. I recommend you read the article yourself, take the test, and then judge if this problem applies to you. The comments after the article are equally informative so I suggest you take a little extra time to glance at those as well.

http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/your-it-band-is-not-the-enemy-but-maybe-your-foam-roller-is

What I appreciated about the article though is that it points out some key philosophies which I’ve hit on in previous blogs: find and address the root issue, use mindfulness in physical movement, and of course take pilates. (That last one was in a comment.) You may want to consider the Foundations Course with Sharon Lightfoot-Pound or Progressive Pilates with Heidi Byrnes but you’ll need permission for the latter. Either way, pilates is an excellent way to understanding body mechanics and movement, all of which will increase your strength and help you live a healthier lifestyle.

One final note: I will no longer be posting for Bria’s blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed the postings thus far and more importantly, found the material informative and helpful to reaching your physical goals. Hope everyone has a safe and healthy holiday. All the best to each and every one of you in the New Year.

 This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about med­i­cine, health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker. Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a med­ical emer­gency, call your doc­tor or 911 immediately. The views expressed on this blog and web­site have no rela­tion to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other insti­tu­tion with which the authors are  affiliated.

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20 Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Fitness Fanatic

The holiday season is upon us. This is not news to anyone nor is the struggle to find the perfect gift for our fitness gurus and fanatics, especially if the gift has to be inexpensive and truly appreciated. I’ve come up with a list that is both inexpensive, functional, and will hopefully result in a sincere “thank you” regardless of the recipient. The most expensive is $100 but you can easily get a 20% discount at Bed, Bath, and beyond. Most suggestions, however, fall within the $20 or less range and some are ideal for stocking stuffers costing just a few bucks. I hope you are inspired as you do your holiday shopping for loved ones and acquaintances that make it on your list this holiday season.

1. Fitbit ($100)

By far the most expensive on the list. However, Bed, Bath, and Beyond will usually have a 20% discount bringing the total price to less than $80. If said recipient doesn’t like it, the store is very generous with returns. I recommend the One version of the Fitbit because it seems to do some much more than other models for the same price.

  1. Yoga mat.

Easily found at Walmart, Target, and other retailers, this is a must have for those practicing any kind of body work at home, including yoga, pilates, or simply stretching.

  1. Toning balls or hand weights.

A wonderful compliment to any fitness routine including pilates and barre. Sometimes it’s easier to own your own for travel, home workouts, or to bring to the studio for ease of use and your desired weight of the ball. One of the best resources to purchase is OPTP. (http://www.optp.com) In fact, unless otherwise stated, OPTP is the go to place for any of the suggestions below.

  1. Anytime Pilates

For $18/month with the first month free, this gift may be best as a suggestion or gift certificate for the second month until the recipient decides it’s worth the monthly cost. Anytime Pilates is an on-line website with hundreds of pilates workout videos using every piece of pilates equipment imaginable including just a mat. Be sure to check out the website before deciding if this is the right gift for the intended recipient.

  1. Bria gift certificates (Price varies)

How could this not make it on the list? All kinds of options including water bottles, t-shirts, group or private instruction. The amount is up to you but just about any amount will help your pilates lover feel appreciated.

  1. Brita water bottle ($10-$20, depending on size.)

Brita’s website will often have coupons for discounts and sometimes Target will have a digital coupon as well, an added bonus when trying to save money. The Brita water bottle has a built in water filter so any water source can quickly give a full bottle of clean water to rehydrate after a workout. Available in many sizes and styles.

  1. Arnica, Epsom salt, heating patches ($5-$10)

Just the thing sore muscles need and an inexpensive option for a gift. To jazz it up, use unique packaging such as a plastic, holiday container or basket with all three and your own unique message. Believe me. Your recipient will feel pampered.

  1. Theraband ($4.50-$15.00)

Often used in physical therapy, a Theraband can either support stretching or added for resistance in mat or reformer workouts. Many colors and sizes are available depending on use.

  1. iTunes gift certificate ($5+)

Add energy to a workout with their favorite tunes. Sometimes even the best of us need some extra motivation and music can often be just the trick!

  1. DVDs (10-$20)

Lots of options but I added this to the list because your fitness guru may have a special interest or need in a particular area and no doubt there is a DVD for it such as developing flexibility, proper stretching etc. Many DVDs now come with several options including length and type of workout. I’ve found some that have a dozen 15 minute workouts with great instruction.

  1. Toe Sox ($12-$20)

Another favorite. Not only does it prevent a person from having to use the “grippy mats” when doing standing leg exercises on the reformer, it also prevents contracting Athlete’s Foot and other unsavory things from the straps. Many studios I’ve come cross around the country mandate that these be worn for good hygiene. Regardless, your workout will improve when using these. Socks come in many colors, sizes, and styles including ones geared towards barre, pilates, and dance. You also get 10% off your first order.

http://www.toesox.com/

  1. Overball ($9.70)

Great tool to keep stability between the knees or added core work when using beneath the tailbone during a workout. The Overball can be inflated as much as a person prefers. If you’re not sure what this is or how it’s used, just do a quick search on the web or find more information on OPTP’s website.

  1. Magic Circle ($34.00)

One of my all-time favorites. Great for adding resistance, stability, and stretching, my favorite being the latter one. Bria carries the circle as well as many pilates organizations such as Balanced Body, STOTT, and retailers such as OPTP.

  1. Pinky ball ($3.50)

We use to call this “the ball of truth” at one studio because if you place it on your lower abdomen while doing reformer work, the ball should not move if your core is engaged and you are equally stable on both sides of the body. Often it rolls off, hence “the truth” that you are not actively engaging your abs, leg circles are too wide, or whatever the reason may be to cause the ball to roll off the body. The other use though is to loosen tight muscles in the feet. The Pinky Ball is miracle cure for this, at least in my opinion. My feet take a beating and the Pinky Ball really unwinds and untightens all the little muscles in the feet.

  1. Foam Roller ($5.95-$33.95)

Many styles and sizes as well as uses. I love the black foam roller but not everyone would agree. Best advice here is to be sure to get a gift receipt so the recipient can exchange if needed. If you don’t know what a foam roller is, then in a nutshell it releases tension in the muscles and can also act as a core stabilizer and warm-up if used during mat work or before a reformer workout.

 16.The Stick ($27.50)

A bit pricey but this is a self-massaging tool to relieve muscle tightness. A favorite among runners, bikers, and other athletes, the stick is wonderful for calf soreness. Check out the company’s website for testimonials, advice on choosing the right size, and just about anything else you need to know to make an informed decision.

https://www.thestick.com/

  1. Massage ($45+)

Who couldn’t use a great massage? Don’t forget the Groupon and discounts to Bria members at Light of Hand massage next door or discover your own massage guru. Whatever you choose, after the stressful holiday season, a massage could be a wonderful gift to the overworked mom, dad, friend, or family member.

  1. Gift certificates to a favorite health food mart or store – supplements, juice bar, or healthy to-go meals (Price Varies)

For the active person, who couldn’t use a gift certificate to Whole Foods, PCC, Trader Joes, or their own favorite spot for a quick, on-the-go bite. Practical, convenient, and no doubt will be appreciated even if it isn’t glamourous.

  1. Neu-spine ($34.00)

I’ve heard many complain about lower back pain. Though there may be underlying causes that should be addressed with a physical therapist or your doctor, one common practice is to place sticky mats under the lower back to support a neutral spine. Balanced body came out with a better solution called Neu Spine. The product supports the lower back to assist with keeping neutral or the sacrum for rollups. I’ve found this to be very effective and much more so than the sticky mats or other solutions typically offered. Product comes in small, medium, and large. For more information, see link.

https://www.pilates.com/BBAPP/V/store/accessories/other/neu-spine.html

  1. Jolt gum ($18.95)

I came across this from a former boss and doctor who used it in place of coffee since he didn’t drink coffee or energy drinks. The gum is highly caffeinated and effective but be sure not to overdo it. If you’re an avid coffee or energy consumer, it’s best to stay away. That said, it’s quite effective and often used by military personnel as well. Review full details on Amazon.com before purchasing and of course, use at your own discretion and risk. Caffeine is still a drug.

The important thing is to think about what your fitness lover has complained about the most over the last year and consider if any of the ideas above would resolve the problem. Regardless, the most important thing is that when you’re giving the gift to include spending time with the person and listening to whatever they have to say. The gift is just a doorway to connect to another person and another way to show you sincerely care about their passions.

As always, feel free to email me with feedback, questions, or suggestions for topics that interest you. I can be reached at smsunrise@yahoo.com or contact Bria directly. Thank you for reading!

 

This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about med­i­cine, health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker. Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a med­ical emer­gency, call your doc­tor or 911 immediately. The views expressed on this blog and web­site have no rela­tion to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other insti­tu­tion with which the authors are  affiliated.