If you have used a foam roller before it certainly feels like it's doing, well, something right? But does it actually work...? Will smashing your muscles improve performance or prevent injury...? When it comes to self-myofascial release (SMR), it's important to sort out the facts from the fiction if you want to get the benefits for your body!
#Truth - Foam Rolling Decreases Tightness
Foam rolling works due to one key mechanism of action, neurological tone reduction in the muscle tissue. By adding external pressure and movement back and forth in a regular rhythm through muscle tissue, receptors in the peripheral and central nervous system are stimulated and essentially take the parking brake off those tight and tonic muscle tissues. This results in the feeling of much looser and flexible muscles!
#Myth - Foam Rolling Breaks Up Scar Tissue
First, if a muscle, tendon, or ligament is torn or crushed, the body creates scar tissue to ‘glue’ the torn pieces together. This tissue is anything but soft nor can it be easily manipulated using a SMR tool such as a foam roller. Receiving Deep Tissue Sports massage to break down the scar tissue is the best type of treatment, then we can use SMR tools to prevent any further build up or re-injury.
#Truth - Foam Rolling Increases Range Of Movement (ROM)
By foam rolling and decreasing muscle tightness and tone you're allowing soft tissue to recover and operate correctly again. This will increase your range of motion post workout and allow the body to recover more efficiently.
#Myth - Foam Rolling Prepares The Body For Performance
Foam rolling prior to working out with the hope that it will improve your performance may be a waste of your time. As just mentioned, foam rolling during and post work out however will prove more beneficial to your recovery. It will help stimulate the active muscle pump of the body, clear out inflammation and lymphatic pooling, and tap into the neural recovery system by reducing local tone of the tissues.
Foam rolling can be a great tool to aid recovery when used correctly around training and matches/events. The key is knowing how it will help and in what context to use it! If you are relying on your foam roller to break up scar tissue or improve your performance however, you may need to visit a Remedial Sports Massage Therapist instead!
- Ashlee Rijnbeek :)
Is your child under the age of 16 and complaining of ongoing knee pain? It might be due to a condition called Osgood-Schlatter's!
Osgood-Schlatter’s is a very common cause of knee pain in adolescents while they are growing. The bump just below the kneecap, where the tendon from the kneecap (patella tendon) attaches to the shin (tibia), is called the tibial tuberosity. It is at this point, where the tendon attaches to the bone, that inflammation can occur during growth spurts. This is due to the presence of a growth plate under the tibial tuberosity, where the bone is still growing.
One thing that can contribute to Osgood Schlatter’s is tight quad muscles- the tighter the muscle, the more the tendon is going to pull on the tibial tuberosity. Stretching and using a foam roller are good ways to try and manage this muscle tightness. Another factor that can contribute is flat feet, which occurs when your child doesn’t have a natural arch in their foot. It is also important that the quads muscle doesn’t become weak because of this condition, and so a strengthening program may be needed.
Osgood Schlatter’s usually settles when your child has finished growing and the growth plate has fused together. For girls this can be at the age of 14 years or 16 for boys. So don’t be too worried if the pain is taking a long time to settle! Even though it can take until the end of growing to settle, that doesn’t mean your child has to endure exercising through pain. There are many treatment options that can help manage your child’s symptoms so they can continue playing their sports! Book in with one of our physiotherapists today so that they can set a management plan specific to your child!
Our final blog on the female athlete and ACL injury details how the combination of poor core control and knee and hip strength can result in throwing off the entire trunk, sending the body and its weight one way, whilst the vulnerable knee get left behind!
But why do females have more trouble with controlling their trunks (and therefore their knees) relative to males? As females mature, they also increase body mass and carry proportionally more fat body mass than their male counterparts. Their centre of mass is also now higher off the ground and therefore harder to control and balance. After the adolescent growth spurt, males get what is called a “neuromuscular spurt” where they progress in muscular development and become proportionately more powerful. In females however, the ratio between the size of their body and the power output of their body basically stays the same after a growth spurt and does not adapt to the increased demands of a bigger, more mature body.
This now means that whilst moving in the air or when changing direction, the muscles that make up the core (abdominals, hip and pelvic muscles) of a female athlete will struggle to control and coordinate the top half, placing more strain through the lower limbs to hold her upright. With the added pace of a match coupled with fatigue or the gentle nudge of an opponent, we unfortunately see a recipe for ACL disaster.
In summary, the 3 types of movement patterns presented through our blogs each make up a potentially hazardous mechanism in which ACL injury can occur. Although these same mechanisms can occur in both male and female athletes, the exaggeration of the trunk and lower limb positioning in landing and change of direction is much greater in females, placing them at a much higher risk. For those who are involved in sports such as Australian Rules Football and Soccer, it is a great idea to get an assessment and overall summary of your movement, as early identification of poor movement patterns and jumping/landing technique could allow for specific strength and athletic performance programs to be implemented, in hope to reduce the risk of ACL injuries from occurring throughout your career!
Let us know what you have thought of our mini ACL blog series! With enough interest, we may even unlock some of our secrets for the best training drills to help improve in each of these areas!
Following on from our previous blog, we now look to what else can happen when a female athlete lands awkwardly during sports – Quadriceps dominance, leading to locking and hyperextension of the knee!
One important muscle group of the posterior chain is the hamstrings. The hamstrings are able to increase flexion (bending) at the knee, which provides a better position and mechanical advantage for using the muscles to absorb force. The hamstrings are considered a synergist with the ACL and are able to pull the tibia posteriorly, counter-acting the quadriceps, and thereby decreasing the stress on the ACL.
When video footage of ACL injuries are studied, there are clear components that occur and lead to injury. Some of these components however are exaggerated in females, resulting in increased vulnerability and higher chances of ACL injuries in sports that involve jumping and change of direction such as Australian Rules Football and Soccer.
Over 3 blogs, we will discuss the common mechanisms in which the ‘at risk’ female athlete lands, contributing to this increase chance of ACL injury.
Part 1. Dynamic Knee Valgus
Can you picture what it looked like last time you saw an athlete go down with a knee injury? The knee falling or buckling inwards and across the body as they landed from a jump or tried to change direction sharply… this is called a dynamic knee valgus, and it is not great for your ACL. When this happens, it is likely that the muscles were not able to absorb the ground reaction forces of the activity, so the joint and the ligaments absorbed a high amount of the force instead.
Test this out yourself!
Have look in the mirror or record yourself on your phone - Can you keep a nice stable and straight leg while performing movements such as single leg squats or lunges? If not, don't panic! By itself, this doesn't mean you are destined for doom, but it does indicate that a strength program, incoorporating some jumping and landing technique/control work would be a great idea!
This is just the start... watch out for parts 2 and 3 of our female athlete ACL injury blog, coming out soon!