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Foam roll leg therapy on-the-go?

Old 04-07-20, 12:35 PM
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KC8QVO
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Foam roll leg therapy on-the-go?

Does anyone else use a foam roller for leg therapy? What do you do on tour?

I had a knee go out on me several years ago and ended up with a few months of physical therapy to get back to shape. That was before I switched to clipless pedals and why I switched. One of the recommendations from my therapist was the foam roller. I'll be honest - I didn't keep up with it once I got back to shape. The clipless pedals have been a significant improvement in the years since and I haven't worried about it. I get a good balance of leg use which has been great (pulling now as well as pushing).

The past couple weeks I've been riding a lot more and a lot more frequently. My knee has been acting up a bit, not to the point of not being able to ride but to where I know its being bothered too much. So I went back to the rolling and all is well. I do 10 reps per leg before I ride and some time after I get back or before bed.

That got me thinking - for any rides more than a day I would have to have that rolling ability with me on-the-go. So far, aside from several 0 days, that is what I have found I need to do back-to-back rides, as far as my legs go.

Does this theory apply to anyone else here? What do you do, how do you do it, what do you use?

Has anyone used a cut-down pool noodle? Or are they too small? The roller I use is 5.5", I'm thinking the noodles are 3.5-4".
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Old 04-07-20, 01:00 PM
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Have you tried a tennis ball? I suspect a noodle won't be either firm or thick enough.
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Old 04-07-20, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Lanesplitter View Post
Have you tried a tennis ball? I suspect a noodle won't be either firm or thick enough.
Interesting idea.

The way I roll out my legs is lay the foam roller on the ground then lay sideways on the roller and run it back and forth between my hip and my knee. I stabilize my position with my opposite foot and my hands, but keep most of my weight on the roller. I am not sure how that process would work with a tennis ball?

See exercise number 4 in the link below - targeting the IT band:
https://www.mensjournal.com/health-f.../3-groin-roll/

As an aside - what my knee issue was attributed to was my knee cap (both of them, only one side got real painful) was being pulled too hard to the outside - my leg strength built up to cause that pulling. When I had X-rays done it was pretty wild. So the object of the game is a couple parts: to loosen the muscles and tendons causing that and balance leg strength to better keep things in-line. I've concentrated on the latter but that is getting to the point of not cutting it so I'm back on the roller.

Last edited by KC8QVO; 04-07-20 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 04-07-20, 08:59 PM
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I use a "Tiger Tail" foam roller. Has handles so you do the rolling and control the pressure. Gets to places a regular roller can't easily reach; no contorting to hit the right spot. Fits in luggage or a pannier with no problem. Got mine at REI but easily found elsewhere.
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Old 04-08-20, 10:48 AM
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I used to use a foam roller in an attempt to help my IT band. My PT recommended I use a roller from Trigger Point. It was hollow. A hollow roller could come in handy for packing because you can stuff things inside it to reduce the space it takes up.

However, I stopped using the roller when I decided that I should focus on the muscle imbalance that causes IT band issues. Since I started doing squats and kettle bell swings I haven't had IT band pain. IMO foam rollers don't solve problems. Perhaps the OP has a knee injury that can be resolved from foam rolling, but I doubt it. It sounds to me like an overuse injury caused by a muscle imbalance.

Sorry, that came off so negative I just wish I'd focused on strength training a long time ago instead of wasting time foam rolling. Knee pain sucks, and I could have fixed it years earlier.
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Old 04-08-20, 11:12 AM
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It was a game changer for me when I started using the Trigger Point foam roller (13 inch). Its easy to pack on overnight trips. And no more lower back pain or tight glutes. It also allows me to ride on consecutive days without sore knees since I can massage the inner thigh area above the knees. Highly recommend.
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Old 04-08-20, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by niknak View Post
I used to use a foam roller in an attempt to help my IT band. My PT recommended I use a roller from Trigger Point. It was hollow. A hollow roller could come in handy for packing because you can stuff things inside it to reduce the space it takes up.
Thanks for the thought. A hollow roller might be ideal.

I was thinking about alternative roller ideas. One is my bed roll. It consists of a Therm-A-Rest Trail Lite inflatable pad rolled up inside of a real cheap blue closed cell foam pad. That is a bit large of a diameter, however I can experiment with it and see how it works (the overlap where the material comes together on the last wrap/layer might be a problem).

Another idea I had was maybe a large piece of PVC, like 4" or 5", with some foam wrap taped around it so there is no overlap seam. Maybe even a cut up blue closed cell foam pad = thicker padding than foam wrap, even a few layers. Just a few ideas anyway.

I am not sure how wide of a roller I need. I can experiment with the one I have and see how little of it I can use then go from there on the width.
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Old 04-10-20, 05:28 PM
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A backpacking guy that I follow by the nickname of "Darwin" uses a cork massage ball. Looks like this one:

https://www.amazon.com/Ultra-Firm-My.../dp/B0797GZHYB

Only .7 oz!
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Old 04-15-20, 04:40 PM
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I have IT band problems (side of knee) that are helped by rolling out with the very stiff black foam rollers. In a pinch I have used a steel soup can (unopened) and you know what, it was just as good. I just had to be a little more aware of how much weight I put on it but it worked for me. You'll want a generous larger-diameter can. Buy one on tour, roll out the muscles, eat the contents of the can, recycle and keep riding.

Worth a test at home anyway, and one less thing to need space for in your kit if it works.
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Old 04-15-20, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
I have IT band problems (side of knee) that are helped by rolling out with the very stiff black foam rollers. In a pinch I have used a steel soup can (unopened) and you know what, it was just as good. I just had to be a little more aware of how much weight I put on it but it worked for me. You'll want a generous larger-diameter can. Buy one on tour, roll out the muscles, eat the contents of the can, recycle and keep riding.

Worth a test at home anyway, and one less thing to need space for in your kit if it works.
HA! Thats a thought.

I remember when I was in PT my therapist said some people go harder and harder on the rolls up to PVC pipe when they get used to it. They had the black foam rollers you mention at the place I went to. That is too stiff for me.

In my research on the subject here I have found a lot of threads and articles that describe rolling out IT bands as being problematic. Most, perhaps all, of the references I came across are in relation to running. They generally come down to the same theme - roll therapy is for massaging muscles. Your IT bands are tendons, not muscles = they dont stretch and contract during movements. However, stretching them - which is what does occur when rolling - will loosen up the stabilizing forces for holding your leg bones together and knee cap in alignment. From a runners' perspective - I can see that.

The general consensus in an alternative solution to rolling in the above runners perspective was to strength train targeting all the other muscles in leg stability with leg lifts, elastic band exercises - such as monster walks, etc.

Interesting...

I will work on the other exercises also. However, hence my first post in this thread - rolling, in my case, works amazingly well to release what causes my one knee to act up. It doesn't take much - 10 rolls on each band/side is all I do now before rides and at the end, or before the end of the day. I have found around my longer rides that on days off that I need a roll session also as I am recuperating from the ride.

As with a lot of things with riding - its all a matter of tuning and finding what works. If a soup can does it - great. Its worth a try, and a meal.
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Old 04-15-20, 06:14 PM
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fourfa
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Your IT bands are tendons, not muscles = they dont stretch and contract during movements. However, stretching them - which is what does occur when rolling - will loosen up the stabilizing forces for holding your leg bones together and knee cap in alignment. From a runners' perspective - I can see that.
Correct, you can't stretch the IT band. Though what you can do is 'crush' it from a tightly-bound oval, which is rigid when it flexes over the top of the tibia, to a looser-bound flat flexible shape. This seems to work in preventing or delaying irritation and inflammation (at least for me). Overall length has nothing to do with it.
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Old 04-17-20, 06:46 AM
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When I travel I use a device called "The Stick" for rolling. Harder, thinner, and easier to carry. Different sizes/stiffness to select from. I actually have a kids version that I normally travel with. Similar to the Tiger Tail mentioned above it is hand held. Commonly found in running stores.
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Old 04-21-20, 04:53 PM
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I carry a small foam roller with me when I tour to roll my IT bands. Rolling helps me prevent pain in my knees.
I use the 4" TriggerPoint Grid, which is like a padded PVC pipe. It's hollow, so I can stuff some gear in the middle. It's much harder than the roller I use at home. I've considered just chopping 4" off that instead, which might be lighter too.
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