Oct 2015

What Is Foam Rolling - The Ins & Outs


Foam rolling has been around for quite a few years, but has spread massively, from being used by professional athletes and rehab patients, to anyone who is active.  But what is it, and why is it so popular?

Rolling is a form of myofascial release, helping to release trigger points and areas of muscles that are tight, due to a range of reasons - every day life, exercise, posture, weaknesses, nutrition, flexibility, lifestyle and hydration to name a few.  It can be a little painful, but unlike deep tissue massage, you are in full control, allowing you to decide where is best to roll, and what pressure you can bear.  It doesn't replace regular sports massage, but it helps keep you in tip top shape between sessions.

So why would you inflict pain on yourself?  Simple, it has so many benefits

  • It reestablishes  full range of movement in a muscle
  • To become pain free
  • It aids recovery
  • It enhances performance 
  • It flushes out toxins as you increase blood flow to areas you roll

But surely you could just stretch?  You could, but it is not as effective for a few reasons - firstly the body has over stretching mechanisms within the body, that can reduce the efficiency of stretching, and secondly, not all muscles are easy to stretch at the right angle.  Foam rolling works by compressing the muscles, causing the trigger points to break up as the adhesions between muscle layers are released.

Where to start.  
Firstly you need a foam roller.  There are a multitude available nowadays, from simple foam rollers to bumpy ones etc.  My favourite is
The Grid (made by trigger point).  It maybe a little bit more expensive, BUT it has lasted years, with a fair amount of rolling on it. It has the right sort of bumps, that give enough pressure, but not too much, and it is hollow, allowing you to grip hold of it during certain rolling techniques.  However there are plenty of others on the market.  I regularly suggest others to clients, by simply going on to Amazon, typing in foam roller, and seeing which has the best review at the price I wish to pay.  You can easily pick up an excellent one for around £15, and believe me it is worth every penny.

You can roll pretty much most muscles, but be careful around joints and the lower back.  Rolling uses body weight to get into the muscle, so you can control the pressure by simply controlling how much body weight you place on the roller and what speed you roll - the slower the more painful, ideally pausing and doing small movements around trigger points.  

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Top Tips To Reduce Back Pain

back pain_Fotor

Are you prone to the odd niggle, twinge or even complete flare up?  If yes, I am with you on that one.  I used to have a mint back, that could lug anything anywhere, but 10 years ago, me and my 4 legged friend reared over backwards onto concrete, breaking my back.  After a massive flare up, lots of scans, hideous drugs and nights of sleeping upright in an arm chair, a fortune on physio appointments, I decided enough was enough, and went back to the basics.  Don't get me wrong, I still have flare ups, as many of you know, but I have learnt a few valuable lessons along the way, helping me to keep the flare ups more contained, and allowing me to do pretty much anything I like.  As an area I am passionate about, I would love to share some of my top tips to avoid back pain


Losing Weight Without Counting Calories

portion sizes

Counting calories, sins, or food colours, has been a popular way to lose or maintain weight for years, but making sure you eat a well balanced diet can be so much easier than that, just by using your hand.
Protein Aim to eat one palm sized portion of food with every meal to feel satisfied, stay fuller for longer, build lean muscle, help the body repair and maintain a steady blood sugar level.  Good sources of protein  are - poultry, lean red meat, eggs, lot & low sugar yoghurt, cottage cheese, low fat milk, salmon and shell fish, as well as soy based products and nuts for vegans and vegetarians.


Do You Really Need To Warm Up Before Riding?


I love a good warm up before riding, but today mine was somewhat different.  It started well - a few squats whilst mucking out, some walking lunges and I was about to start my dynamic stretches when the girls' demon pony escaped.  I say escaped, but what I actually mean is that she whipped past Elly as Elly was opening the door to play with her.  And play she did, first we had a bit of hide and seek in the other stables, followed by a bit of tag, finishing off with Grandma's footsteps until the speed merchant was caught.  I ignored the smirks as I put her back in the box, and told Elly to not let her out again.  She promptly replied 'But Mummy, you had some much fun playing with her, and it was so funny to watch.  You should take her running with you Mummy as she is faster than you."

So after my slightly manic warm up, I finally got back to my proper warm up, and yes I did continue it, because although I had got my heart and lungs going, and my muscles warm, there are more benefits to a riding warm than just getting warm.