I really do appreciate what the foam roller can do.
My introduction to it knocked my socks off. After being pedal to the metal in the weight room for a number of years with range of motion standards consisting of putting a fork or glass to my lips I was absolutely amazed by how good it felt to mobilize tissue.
Familiarizing myself with the foam roller, it soon become a key part of my exercise prescription as well as my sessions with clients.
I do have a confession to make however.
Looking back on it all I can say that it was more than likely an over prescription on my behalf. Not necessarily a mistake made since it was still extremely helpful but as the training lens grows over time the thought evolves to where it ties into the big picture. In my situation where most of my body of work is tied getting people moving well, it is in my best interest to get down to the brass tacks.
Especially when time is of the essence.
Foam rolling most definitely has its place and is still something I use in session when the need is there to use it. The way I now go about it is instruction on using it so that it can be done at home or pre/post session.
Foam rolling isn't as big a part of my big picture movement instruction as it used to be, but it certainly doesn't mean the foam roller has been left out of the big picture.
In fact the foam roller has reinvented itself as one of my preferred in session movement preparation tools for an entirely different reason.
Hip Extension, Abdominal Expansion, Thoracic Spine Extension, Rib Cage Control
Using the foam roll to load the body and to throw breathing into the mix has become a go to for me when it comes to achieving abdominal and thoracic control. Add to it being in a position of vertical hip extension it will give you a lot when it comes to lengthening the front side without shredding the low back or hip flexor.
Working with a wide range of clients I have used these drills in a lot of scenarios. For some it may be movement prep, others it may be active recovery and for some of the people I work with it may very well be their first introduction to a deadlift.
Wherever it may fit in the downward force application on the roll has been wildly effective for me when it comes to teaching the role of the anterior chain in a deadlift. One of the biggest feedback pieces I have received is when the lower abdomen can fire before the hip moves, hinging starts to make sense.
The roll also allows for numerous changes in direction whether it is the trajectory of the hand or the position of the feet when it comes to loading various angles of the hinge.
For any vertical/horizontal pushing or pulling this has become a warm up staple both for getting the shoulder moving as well as feeling out the abdominal/thoracic spine relationship. Once again downward force on the roll will allow the trunk to brace so that the mid back is able to do its job when it comes to putting the roll in motion.
Particularly barbell loaded pushing I have found this to be extremely effective when it comes to putting tension in the right places.
That's How I Roll
Like any other piece of equipment in the gym the foam roll is a tool and like any other tool the key is to know where it fits in the grand scheme of things. Moving and lifting efficiently and pain free makes life substantially easier in the gym and foam rolling certainly helps.
However in order to move well requires you to get skillful at moving and if I had to pick one over the other when it comes to bang for your buck in the weight room, maybe the foam roller can assist you in serving a higher purpose.