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Mar 29, 2013

The Foam Roller

Another local blogger, Ty(see HERE) has been looking for information to help her with her IT band so I thought I'd put out a post about the foam roller.  I've had IT Band issues and three things have worked for me:  NOT RUNNING, stretching and the foam roller seemed to be what worked for me.

I've often talked about the foam roller.  It's one of my best friends.  I use this handy device before/after every run and also before I go to bed.  If I'm not running that day, I use it when I wake up and when I go to bed.  It helps keep my legs in check.  It's not a complete solution and really, if you are having severe pain, you should see a doctor or PT but if you are just trying to get the soreness out, I would recommend picking one up.  It's keeps the muscles loose.  Also, Runs for Cookies, shows you how to make your own if you are interested in doing that.

Here's what I have used.  I started off with the regular foam roller.  It's great for beginners to get used to rolling and I say "get used to" because it can hurt at first and you can't put all your weight on the roller. But you will eventually be able to.  I used the white one below for about a month or two and then it broke down.  They just don't last.  Enter The Grid.  The Grid, made by TP Therapy, is a foam roller that has a hard tube with foam around it.  The foam does not break down.  I have used one for several years(3).  It's got little grooves to simulate fingers, hands, elbows.  It works for me.
White regular foam roller vs. The Grid
I've also regularly used the RumbleRoller although it's not something I could use on a daily basis.  This monster is great for digging into the muscle.  It really takes some getting used to, even for those that have been foam rolling for quite some time.  This is the blue version but they even make a black version that harder(I can't imagine)  It also does not break down and really gets into the hard to reach places that The Grid might not get into to.
Both the RumbleRoller and The Grid come in different size options too so you can travel with them:


Also, the Grid is coming out in April with a new size(see the little one above) for use when traveling.  I will be ordering this as soon as it comes in stock.  I used to bring the mid size one vacation and this will help save room.

For those of you that have not tried foam rolling, take it slow.  You can't usually put the full weight of your body on the roller(especially these) until you get used to it.  I use them so much I wish I could put more pressure than what I can put on it.  It will typically hurt at first but keep doing it.  They work especially great after a marathon and you can feel the release from the muscle after a workout like that.

I now use these daily for a full body self massage whether I hurt for not and has made a big difference in how I feel.

So, what's your advice for Ty?  If you have had IT Band issues in the past or know of someone that has, what's worked for them or for you?


Rest day on the schedule today.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. What about a muscle imbalance assessment and strengthening exercises as well as rolling, stretching etc...

    1. Strength is good. Where does one get a muscle imbalance assessment?

  2. Ah, no wonder your "regular" foam roller broke down so easily. My "regular" one is a gray/black high density foam. Much more firm than the white ones. Also I think part of my problem, and part of the reason the usual therapies and rest didn't help as much as it should have, is that there is some fat pad impingement (Hoffa's syndrome). That is what my PT initially diagnosed me with but then the symptoms later were more classic IT band and he decided it was that the following week. I honestly think it's both, because there are two distinct types of pain and in two different locations. I also already had fat pad impingement in 2009, and my knees hyperextend, which is a risk factor.

    To Anonymous: good advice. I have been doing a lot of strength exercises from my PT and some that I found on the internet. In doing them, it's clear that there is a strength imbalance between my left and right hip abductors, so I am working on that. The imbalance probably originated from a hamstring problem I had last year which affected my gait. I had a gait analysis done which showed that I was kind of "riding over" my right leg.

    The only thing so far that has gotten me pain-free is complete rest. (No elliptical, no kicking when swimming, minimal walking, no lower body strengthening exercises). A week of that and now I am able to tolerate stretching, strengthening, and foam rolling without it flaring up and becoming worse the next day.

    Slowly but surely....

    (PS thanks for all your help & advice Jeff!)

  3. I have the Grid and love it. I haven't been brave enough to try the rumble roller yet but I've heard people like that one too!

  4. OMG I hurt just looking at your pics of The Grid! I use a standard foam roller although I might have to upgrade to the one you mentioned. I think mine has started breaking down as well. Great post! I definitely rely on my foam roller! It's a great tool!

  5. I've been using the the grid for my IT band issues that have started once my long runs got over 11 miles. It seems to work well, but it does hurt a lot. I've also been doing some stretches and holding them for 60 seconds each and that works well.

    Also as an FYI, is giving away an entry in the chicago half marathon if anyone is interested.