We know that foam rolling is good for our muscles and the tissue that connects our muscles. It improves mobility, flexibility, and can prevent injuries. But I am here today to talk about the one body part you aren’t foam rolling that will cause setbacks in your workouts.
Let’s talk trains ( no, not the choo choo kind). I will keep this science part short, as I want you to get the main point of this post. Our bodies are made of many ‘train tracks’ of muscles that are connected, and start at the bottom of our body and work the way up to the top. If any part of an actual train track were to be damaged, then we would agree that their would be a disruption in the travel of the train, right? And if there was a disruption in the train’s travel..the conductor would most likely communicate that to the subsequent stops.
This is how our muscles work. If there is one specific muscle that is contracted, overly tight, injured, we will have a disruption of our body movements, all the way up through the body. And by disruption I mean inefficient movement. In addition, just like the train conductor would communicate the disruption in the travel, that one overly tight, contracted, or injured muscle will communicate to all the other muscles that it is attached to.
So WHERE AM I GOING WITH THIS?
Now let’s talk feet ( yes the most beautiful body part). Your plantar fascia is the muscle that covers the bottom of your foot. These muscles often get neglected. These muscles can get bunched up, tight, and before you know it you are putting uneven weight distribution on either the outside or the inside of the foot. Because of this, the plantar fascia foot muscle is source of trouble that communicates up through the rest of your ‘train track’.
Don’t believe me? Try this test:
1) Do a regular forward bend, where your hands are reaching for your toes with your knees straight. Pay attention to how much or little your hands are able to reach the floor without HUNCHING your back. Also pay attention to how it feels along the backside of your body on each side.
2) Return to standing, and either using a tennis ball, golf ball, or trigger point ball, roll your foot on top, deeply massaging the bottom of your foot. Start out slow and thorough covering the entire foot, rather than fast and vigorous. Apply as much pressure as the pain allows. Continue this on one foot for 3 minutes. Click on the picture below for a demonstration.
3) Now perform the forward bend again. Note any difference in the feeling of EACH SIDE of the back of your legs and back. Also look at where you hands are in relation to the floor. You SHOULD notice a difference on the side that you rolled your foot. It should feel more loose and relaxed.
In most people this will produce a dramatic demonstration of how working in one small part can affect the functioning of the whole. NOW- Don’t forget to roll the other foot for 3 minutes!
Rolling work on the foot muscle can help alleviate problems such as tight hamstrings, tight neck, and lumbar lordosis ( an excessive arch in your back that affects posture). Not to mention rolling your foot with a ball can create EVEN weight distribution as you are walking and moving versus an uneven weight distribution. All of these problems, if not corrected, can lead to overuse injuries.
TAKE ACTION: Using a tennis ball, golf ball, or trigger point ball, roll your feet 2 minutes each side prior to your workouts to help alleviate tight, bunched muscles.
Do you know others that might be forgetting to perform soft tissue work on their feet? Please SHARE using the buttons below!